Not even its biggest donors will be safe from GOP retribution in the next Congress

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The odds of the Republicans taking the House are pretty good right now. That means not only an end to the January 6 investigation but also a new round of Inquisition-style hearings meant to punish everyone from Dr. Anthony Fauci to Hunter Biden, with impeachment proceedings against President Joe Biden all but guaranteed.

But in a sign of just how much Republicans are demanding complete and total fealty, one of the targets is one of the last you’d ever expect: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

For decades, the Chamber was synonymous with the Republican Party. The Chamber never met a tax cut or deregulation it didn’t like, and it gloried in the era of Reagonomics. Over time, the Chamber gradually embraced some more liberal social policies, including support for LGBTQ issues, including endorsing the Equality Act. 

Still, that hasn’t stopped the Chamber from sinking more than $100 million into the campaigns of Republican candidates over the past decade, including spending $2 million in the Georgia Senate runoffs in 2021 to support Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Loeffler wanted to ban trans athletes, and Perdue had a zero rating from HRC from his time in Congress. Both lost, but neither would have supported the Equality Act.

It’s that kind of divulgence from the GOP’s current articles of faith that are getting the Chamber in trouble. The specific cause of a probably Congressional investigation is the Chamber’s support for something called ESG. ESG stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance and is a set of investor standards meant to encourage investments in responsible companies. 

The Chamber has endorsed the ESG standards, sending the GOP into orbit. ESG doesn’t necessarily require firms to establish pro-active support for LGBTQ rights, although a segment of the market is catering to this concept. But what has really set Republicans in Congress off is the Environmental standard.

“Today, for many companies, climate change and carbon emissions impact long-term value, thereby becoming a factor that retirement fund managers should take into consideration,” one statement from a Chamber executive noted.

That’s in direct conflict with the Republicans’ refusal to embrace any green energy efforts. Indeed, they see it as a Communist plot—literally.

“How can somebody actually be duty-of-care to the shareholders of one entity when you’re duty-of-care to the Chinese Communist Party’s-controlled energy company?” one anonymous Republican told Business Insider.

The fact that Republicans would be willing to conduct public hearings designed to harm and humiliate the Chamber shows just how far the party has drifted from its business roots. The problem for the national Chamber was that it was never a fan of Trump and, by extension, Trumpism. Indeed, the Chamber opposed Trump’s nomination in 2016 and even endorsed some moderate Democrats in 2018. (Local chambers, which often consist of small businesses, have shown themselves a lot more in line with the current GOP thinking.)

“The Chamber of Commerce, after what they did in 2020, they basically became persona non grata in the conservative movement,” one Republican operative said. “There was already a split in the conservative movement, who were never fans of the Chamber, but you had more moderate members and even those Republicans, particularly the ones in the House, have had enough of the Chamber.”

Of course, it’s one thing to be tired of an organization and it’s entirely another to come after it for retribution. But that’s today’s GOP for you. The party doesn’t have any problem biting the hand that feeds it.

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