Arizona Chamber and U.S. Chamber convene tele-town hall on reconciliation bill, urge Sinema to oppose

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Tuesday night convened a statewide tele-townhall about why the groups are urging Sen. Kyrsten Sinema , D-Ariz., to oppose the massive social spending bill known as Build Back Better.

Arizona Chamber President and CEO Danny Seiden and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley discussed the bill’s negative effects on inflation, the tax environment and federal budget deficits. 

Neil Bradley

Seiden said Arizona’s economy was one of the fastest states in the country to recover the jobs it lost during the pandemic-induced downturn and he noted the consistent rate at which the state is attracting new jobs. 

The reconciliation bill, warned Seiden, could hurt the state’s positive growth trajectory, and his chamber is urging Sen. Sinema and her colleague Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., to reject the legislation. 

Seiden said the bill is too expensive and that it will make the “already Jimmy-Carter-level inflation rates even worse.” 

Bradley, a public policy veteran, said that the bill was one of the worst pieces of legislation he has seen in some 25 years of tracking Congress’ work. 

Bradley also noted that Arizona’s economic growth can be hindered by policy crafted in Washington, D.C.

“Arizona is what we want the nation’s economy to be: dynamic, vibrant, growing –  that’s the definition of what we want to emulate,” Bradley said. “The problem is that sometimes Washington can throw a wet blanket on all that growth and at the same time raise prices for everyday families and businesses.”

Bradley said that last weekend around 1,880 pages of the bill were received by lawmakers on Capitol Hill containing “taxes, new powers for the Internal Revenue Service, and [new] ways of regulating businesses.” 

Sixty-three percent of small businesses across the U.S. have had to raise their prices due to inflationary pressures, and Bradley said he’s certain that the bill will add to these pressures partly because of the amount of money that it requires, which will “have to be borrowed, in this case from mainly overseas creditors, and paid back by higher taxes later.”

Seiden said he’s concerned with the penalties that the bill would enforce on Arizona’s economy, pointing to a portion of the legislation that offers a more generous tax credit for electric vehicle purchases if the car was assembled in a unionized factory.

Seiden said the provision conflicts with Arizona’s constitution, which enshrines the state’s “right to work” (RTW) status and makes labor union membership voluntary. He argued that Arizona’s growing electric vehicle manufacturing sector is thanks in part to Arizona’s status as an RTW state, which the bill would undermine.

“This provision would punish non-union companies to choose between operating at either a competitive disadvantage or protecting their employees,” Seiden said. 

Both Bradley and Seiden called for the bill to be scrapped and that Congress should start over. They both expressed appreciation for Sinema’s work to improve the bill, but that their chambers are urging her not to support it and instead back pro-economic-growth policies. 

“Arizona’s Chamber and the U.S. Chamber are working together on an advocacy campaign here in the state thanking Sen. Sinema for so far standing up to the big tax and spend agenda in Washington and urging her to not let up, to keep fighting back against policies that will drive up costs more than they already are,” Seiden said.

Nalani Sommer

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