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‘Businesses are up to the task of getting through this election cycle:’ U.S. Chamber of Commerce EVP

Yahoo Finance's Alexis Christoforous and Neil Bradley, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, discuss the need for stimulus on election day.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Businesses large and small are bracing for post-election unrest, boarding up windows and preparing for possible looting. A recent "USA Today" poll found that three out of four voters are worried about post-election violence, with just one in four saying they are very confident there will be a peaceful transfer of power if Joe Biden defeats President Donald Trump.

Joining me now is Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer of the US Chamber of Commerce. Neil, thanks for being with us today. I'm going to start by asking just, what are you hearing from your constituents, from your members? What are businesses preparing for as they look ahead to what could be an uncertain post-election?

NEIL BRADLEY: Yeah, I mean, they're certainly hoping that we avoid the worst, the violence that you just mentioned and the threat of unrest. 2020 has brought a ton of uncertainty. The COVID, the pandemic, social unrest, racial unrest, and now election unrest in a very polarized society, when frankly, trust in our institutions is at its lowest level in a generation.

That said, I think businesses are confident that their communities and our system are up to the task of getting through this election cycle. And most of the business leaders we talked to are focused on turning the corner, putting campaigning behind us, and getting back to addressing the fundamental problems that we have to support an economy in the midst of a pandemic, and then helping us recover into 2021.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: And as they try to do that, Neil, how can these small businesses instill confidence in their communities, which in turn, of course, would help them?

BRIAN SOZZI: Yeah, I mean, these small business leaders, these mid-sized business leaders, I mean, they're pillars in their communities. And so one of the things that we've encouraged, and frankly, we've been encouraged by them, is to simply speak out and to reassure employees and customers to have patience, to understand that we may not know the election outcome tonight, in fact, likely won't. And that's OK.

We have a process, the process should play out. And just kind of instilling that reassurance and that calm I think is an important role. And then really orienting people towards the future. We have work to do. We are five months late on a phase four COVID relief package. That has got to get done.

We are years, in fact, decades behind on getting an infrastructure bill done. That's got to be a top order of business for 2021. So, you know, there's a time for campaigning, there's a time for governing and growing, today ends the time for campaigning, tomorrow begins the time for governing and growing.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: The US Chamber has traditionally been a conservative group. But the Chamber has actually collided with President Trump and his administration on a number of things, everything from tariffs to immigration. When the Chamber looks at both of these candidates, which of the two does the Chamber consider to be more pro-business?

NEIL BRADLEY: Well, we don't endorse in presidential elections. For over 100 years, we've worked with presidents of both parties. We believe part of our mission is to work with presidents of both parties, irrespective of whoever the American people elect. In those over 100 years, there's never been a president who we agreed with everything on.

There's never been a president where we disagreed with them on everything. And so we're kind of like the umpire, we call balls and strikes. If we agree with you on an issue, we're going to be your best friend, and we're going try to help you get it done. If we don't, we're going to be honest about that, and we're going to do what we think is best for the American business community and the free enterprise system.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: The US Chamber has certainly thrown its support behind Republicans over the past decade. I believe that they have spent over $100 million backing some Republican candidates. But this year, it was a little different. You endorsed a number of House Democrats for re-election. I know that angered some of your members. Why did you do that? Why that shift in policy?

NEIL BRADLEY: Well, it didn't really anger some of our members, I think it angered maybe some Republicans out there. We are not a partisan institution. We're not like the RNC or the DNC. Our job is to articulate a policy, an agenda that represents what our members believe is best for economic growth in the United States, work with members of Congress, irrespective of party, to achieve that agenda.

And when members of Congress, irrespective of party, are willing to stand with us, we're willing to stand with them. You know, USMCA was a top priority for us and the Trump administration over the past two years. It wouldn't be the law of the land today if it wasn't for some key House Democrats standing up and helping us get that over the finish line.

We're proud that they stood with us. We're happy to support them today.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I know that a few of the Democratic lawmakers at the Chamber has backed-- support a $15 minimum wage. And I know it's a policy that some in the business world actually oppose. Why did you make that decision? Why was that the right decision?

NEIL BRADLEY: Well, members of Congress are kind of like presidents, right? I haven't found one yet who we agree with everything on. And we haven't found one yet who we disagree with everything on. And so we're not a single-issue organization. We want to work with you on as many issues where we're in agreement. We want to try to convince you when you're wrong on some issues.

And so as a result, we do endorse Republicans and Democrats with whom we have disagreements. There were some Republicans who voted against the 2017 tax bill. They were wrong on that vote, by the way. But they were right on a whole bunch of other stuff. And they earned the Chamber's endorsement.

So we look across a broad swath of issues. We say if you're with us more than you're against us, minimum 70% threshold, then we count you as a friend of business, someone we can work with, and you can earn our endorsement.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right, Neil Bradley, of the US Chamber of Commerce. Thanks for your time today.

NEIL BRADLEY: Thanks for having me.