Chamber of Commerce ‘determined’ in push for immigration reform in 2014

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The president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Wednesday the group will use all of its influence to persuade Congress to pass immigration reform this year.

“We’re determined to make 2014 the year that immigration reform is finally enacted,” Chamber CEO Thomas J. Donohue said in his annual speech on the state of American business.

Mr. Donohue said the powerful business lobby will work with churches, community organizations, law enforcement groups and others to make sure the Republican-led House approves immigration reform. The Chamber has been advocating for the legislation as a boost for the economy.

The Senate approved comprehensive immigration reform legislation last year, but the measure has stalled in the House. Republican leaders have said they are willing to consider portions of the proposal, such as improved border security, although there is resistance to creating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Speaking at the group’s headquarters in Washington, Mr. Donohue also said the Chamber will work in the mid-term elections to elect “a pro-business majority in the House.”

While he didn’t mention the tea party specifically, his comments suggested that the organization will continue to push for so-called “establishment” Republican candidates. He said the Chamber will support candidates “who want to work within the legislative process,” a veiled swipe at conservatives who forced a government shutdown in October.

Mr. Donohue said the state of American business is “improving” and the economy is gaining strength, although “misguided” government policies such as too much regulation are still hurting growth. He said economic growth this year should approach 3 percent, a robust pace.

“Employers are concerned about the negative impact of Obamacare,” he said, adding that the health care law is “expected to hit the small business market even harder this year.”

But he said the law should be “fixed” rather than repealed.

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