U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s State of American Business 2022 event ignores Freedom to Vote Act pending in Congress
January 11, 2022, Washington DC-Two months ago, 23 groups sent an open letter to the U.S. Chamber’s Board Members asking them to use their influence to support fair elections and people’s freedom to vote. As the Chamber wraps up one of its most important events of the year, the State of American Business 2022, not a single speaker addressed the issue of real solutions the attacks on our freedom to vote and our failing Democracy, like the Freedom to Vote Act. Additionally, to this date, 0 out of the 65 Chamber board members have responded to our letter.
Major companies, like AT&T, United Airlines, UPS, and Pfizer are silent on voting rights as a majority of Americans across the political spectrum support the Freedom to Vote Act. The reforms in the Freedom to Vote Act will take dark money out of politics, restore voting rights, protect voters, and end gerrymandering so that electoral districts are fairly drawn. This critical bill will work to return power to the people.
Corporations and business leaders came out in droves during the 2020 Movement for Black Lives uprisings, supporting Black communities, democracy, and our freedom to vote. Ironically, many of those same companies remain members of the Chamber of Commerce, which is actively blocking progress and supporting racist efforts to undermine people’s right to vote — especially Black, Brown, Indigenous, younger and older voters. Complacent in the Chamber’s obstruction, these companies have failed to follow through on their commitments.
Many corporations were quick to sign the Black Economic and Business Alliance’ full-page New York Times spread, titled “We Stand for Democracy” in April. In fact, over 500 companies and CEOs, including US Chamber Board members like Microsoft, United Airlines, and Dow Chemical, united to oppose the 360+ state bills pending in 47 states that contain discriminatory voting measures. But where are they now when the Federal bill that can stop this racist anti-voting legislation dead in its tracks is pending in Congress? They are silent, hiding behind the Chamber of Commerce, disregarding and endangering our democracy.
Instead, the Chamber advised members of the House and Senate to vote against the earlier For The People Act, mischaracterizing the provisions in the bill.
The open letter to the Chamber’s Board members asked them to influence the Chamber to reconsider its position. It makes the following asks:
- Join the many business leaders, corporations, and investors that have publicly endorsed the Freedom to Vote Act.
- Communicate your support to Members of Congress and the White House
- Change the U.S. Chamber’s position to support the Freedom to Vote Act.
Together with Martin Luther King III and his family, the Declaration for American Democracy joins the annual D.C. Peace Walk on January 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day — and the deadline that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer set for debating Senate rule reforms to ensure free and fair elections for all.
Jana Morgan, Director, Declaration for American Democracy
“The Senate must act now to pass the Freedom to Vote Act before it’s too late. In states across the country, lawmakers and dark money groups are hard at work restricting our freedom to vote, using partisan gerrymandering to draw congressional districts that deny people fair representation, and are planning to attempt future election sabotage. The Chamber of Commerce, and its members, can and must do the right thing to defend and strengthen American democracy by joining the groundswell of voices calling on the Senate to pass the Freedom to Vote Act. Time is running out.”
Folabi Olagbaju, Greenpeace USA Democracy Campaign Director
“The future of our democracy should not and cannot be in the hands of corporations and politicians who want to take us back to the Jim Crow era. They’ve made it clear that they support racist anti-voter bills and partisan gerrymandering instead of the people. They do not want us to exercise our freedom to vote and make our voices heard. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is trying to silence voters because they fear the accountability of truly representative government.
“The Chamber of Commerce needs to persuade its members not to contribute to any local, state or national candidate who is dismantling our freedom to vote as we speak.
“Whatever our color, background or zip code, most of us believe that voters pick our leaders — our leaders do not get to pick their voters. But groups like the US Chamber of Commerce are putting up barriers to silence our voices based on what we look like or where we live. We can’t let that happen!”
Lizzy Price, Accountable.US
“Major corporations, including members of the Chamber of Commerce, chose to reward the politicians that weaponized Donald Trump’s Big Lie with millions of dollars in campaign cash. In the aftermath of January 6th, many big-name companies assured their customers and employees they value our democracy, but it’s obvious they value something more – holding political influence over as many lawmakers as possible even if those lawmakers voted to subvert our government. These corporations should recognize that normalizing election conspiracy mongers in Congress equates to normalizing their anti-democratic behavior. If they truly stand by their words in support of democracy, companies must prove it by changing their own hypocritical and complicit behavior.”
Aaditi Lele, Student Fellow, Change the Chamber
“The Freedom to Vote Act is the most significant voting rights bill in generations. By not supporting reform, the Chamber is choosing to shield America’s largest corporations from accountability rather than strengthen the future of democracy for generations to come.
“Without a functioning democracy, our communities and economy cannot thrive. It’s time for the business community to stand up for America’s best ideals and support the Freedom to Vote Act. It’s time for business leaders to take a stand and call on the Senate and President Biden to deliver the Freedom to Vote Act to the American People.”
Groups that signed on to the letter:
American Sustainable Business Council
Black Voters Matter
Blue Wave Postcard Movement
Build Back Better USA
Change the Chamber
Clean Elections Texas
Declaration for American Democracy
End Citizens United/Let America Vote Action Fund
Fix Democracy First
Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action
Network for Responsible Public Policy
RepresentUs New Mexico
Secure Elections Network
U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development
Voices for Progress
Contact: Valentina Stackl, Greenpeace USA, firstname.lastname@example.org , (734) 276 6260