US Chamber, the nation’s biggest lobby, is cutting staff

Cuts come as source says group is financially stable

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is laying off a dozen of its roughly 500 employees.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is laying off a dozen of its roughly 500 employees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted September 17, 2020 at 4:14pm

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the biggest spender on federal lobbying, is laying off 12 employees from its roughly 500-person staff as part of a restructuring that the group’s insiders say will also aim to expand its policy advocacy. 

Most of the laid-off employees were tied to the operation of the group’s building, across from the White House, or to putting on in-person events, according to a source familiar with the decisions. The source added that the group was financially “stable” and was likely on track for a break-even year. The chamber disclosed total revenue of more than $167 million on its 2018 tax forms. 

Many of the group’s lobbyists will remain, including former House GOP leadership aide Neil Bradley, who will oversee a new unit called strategic advocacy, according to a memo to staff from Suzanne Clark, the chamber’s president. That division, under Bradley, will also include political affairs, though Sara Armstrong continues to run political affairs and federation relations, the memo stated.

Clark added in the memo that another former GOP congressional aide, Jack Howard, would continue to run government affairs. 

“To further strengthen our capabilities, we will make targeted investments in new talent within the Strategic Advocacy group — primarily within Government Affairs —to ensure we are fully equipped for the battles ahead, which increasingly occur at the state and local levels,” she wrote in the memo. “Altogether, this strategic alignment will add new firepower to our advocacy and strengthen the Chamber’s influence and impact for our members.”

The chamber has remained the nation’s top spender when it comes to federal lobbying through the COVID-19 pandemic. But, in recent years, the group has struggled with internal division over policy issues, candidate endorsements and compensation for the group’s longtime CEO, Tom Dononhue.