National Post (National Edition)

Suzanne Clark will be first woman to lead U.S. Chamber of Commerce


Suzanne Clark, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, will take over as chief executive of the powerful lobbying group next month.

Clark will replace the chamber’s longtime chief, Tom Donohue. She will be the first woman to helm the group, at a time the business community faces economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and Democratic control of Congress and the White House.

“American businesses are dealing with the uncertaint­y of the pandemic, the challenges of a recession and uneven recovery, stark shifts in government leadership and policy, and near-constant disruption­s being driven by rapid technologi­cal advancemen­t,” Clark said in a statement.

She also cited “tremendous opportunit­ies for businesses to serve people and communitie­s.”

The chamber has long been allied with Republican­s in its push for pro-business policies, yet Clark takes over at a politicall­y delicate moment: The GOP diverged from the group on trade and immigratio­n policy under president Donald Trump, and the chamber has flirted with greater bipartisan­ship despite its concerns over Democratic economic policy.

The group condemned Trump’s efforts to overturn the election and promised to stop donations to some members of Congress, but it has also pledged to fight moves by progressiv­e Democrats on wages, labour and health care.

Democratic candidates and parties accounted for just over a quarter of the chamber’s federal political giving in 2020, up from less than 10 per cent in 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based group that tracks political donations. The 2020 total was the third-largest share the group donated to Democrats since 1992, according to the CRP.

The chamber’s overall political giving increased dramatical­ly under Donohue, who took over in 1997. Yet in recent years, he had also sought to reward Democrats for working with their Republican counterpar­ts in the group’s annual scorecards for lawmakers.

Clark spent much of last year leading the group’s response to the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis.

The chamber cited her role in “strengthen­ing relationsh­ips with state and local chamber of commerce organizati­ons” ahead of the coronaviru­s lockdowns.

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