Within a significant time of political change, there has been little focus on the evolving relationship between the business community and policymakers. The traditional divide between pro-business policymakers and everyone else has largely dissolved; the boundaries for those who are strong allies of the business community are less defined and, potentially, open to new entrants.
While corporate constituents generally fare well with policymakers across their own footprint, even corporate constituent interests are not automatic for policymakers. One does not need to look beyond Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ ongoing battle with Disney or Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) contribution to blocking Amazon from building a second headquarters in New York City in order to appreciate the seismic shift in how businesses are being valued by policymakers. It was not long ago that a large corporate constituent was untouchable, and the entrant of a business to a congressional district was automatically welcome at any scale.
There may be no better example to highlight the evolving relationship with the business community than the Section 301 tariffs on imports from China that were originally implemented by President Trump and continued under President Biden. These tariffs come at a high price to U.S.–based companies that have manufacturing facilities overseas. Not only has there been virtually no movement for this policy, but other business priorities in the trade space – like the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) and the Globalized System of Preferences (GSP) – have remained untouched.
And, it is not only the trade space where business is not getting the love they once were. Tax extenders, for example, are (as has become the norm) well past their reasonable deadline. More companies are becoming the focus of congressional oversight (even constituents of key members responsible for the oversight), and the internal policies of companies – especially on social issues – are no longer off limits.
This changing dynamic around business relationships and policymakers make allies look more like a patchwork than the traditional partisan divides. This phenomenon welcomes questions on whether new, non-traditional allies of the business community could emerge and whether political alliances may change.
Most importantly, these changes are a reminder that every business should engage with their policymakers, especially those who directly represent them in Congress. Ignoring policymakers is no longer practical or politically wise for businesses, and navigating the complex and ever-changing landscape is not something that can be done only when needed – it requires a consistent presence and relationship.