WASHINGTON — The head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce pledged Wednesday to ramp up the group’s lobbying on immigration legislation and to play a bigger role in electing pro-business candidates in November’s midterm congressional elections.

The nation’s largest business-lobbying group “will pull out the stops” to encourage Congress to pass a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws, chamber president Tom Donohue said during his annual “State of American Business” speech.

Donohue said the group is prepared to spend heavily to ensure lawmakers pass pro-business measures in an election year when it’s often hard to enact any laws, much less controversial bills such as immigration.

“We hope to turn that assumption on its ear by turning the upcoming elections into a motivator for change,” Donohue said. “It’s based on a simply theory: If you can’t make them see the light, then as least make them feel some heat.”

Rob Engstrom, who oversees the chamber’s political operations, would not disclose the group’s budget but said the chamber planned to exceed what it spent on House and Senate races in 2012.

The chamber’s move challenges Tea Party-aligned Republicans who incensed business leaders after those lawmakers successfully pushed a partial federal government shutdown last October in effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Donohue said the business group is looking at “half a dozen” House and Senate races involving primaries or open seats to aid candidates who agree with the chamber’s positions on the economy, trade, immigration and other issues.

Source: USA Today