January 9, 2014 1:10 PM, EST

U.S. Chamber Prioritizes Highway Bill for 2014

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will make it a priority to lobby for a new surface transportation authorization law in 2014 as the current one expires, its leader said.

In a Jan. 8 speech outlining his group’s plans for 2014, chamber President Tom Donohue called infrastructure important for global trade and the movement of energy resources.

“Trading around the world and moving energy across the country requires a safe, seamless and modern infrastructure,” Donohue said, according to a transcript provided by the Chamber. “Families, workers, visitors, tourists and our environment need it too—to speed mobility, conserve energy, clean the air and save lives.”

Donohue said the chamber “will work for a multiyear reauthorization” of surface transportation programs in addition to a port and water infrastructure reauthorization, which Congress has worked on in recent months.

He also said the chamber plans to aggressively back “pro-business” candidates and go against some tea party opponents in elections this year.

“In 2014, the chamber will work to protect and expand a pro-business majority in the House and advance our position and our influence in the Senate,” Donohue said. “The business community understands what’s at stake.”

Donohue said the chamber will support candidates who favor trade, energy development and immigration reform.

In recent years, the chamber has opposed tea party-backed lawmakers on issues including the federal budget and U.S. Export-Import Bank reauthorization.

In October, American Trucking Associations President Bill Graves called tactics by the conservative tea party wing of the Republican Party during federal budget negotiations, “foolish, ill-advised, reckless and detrimental” to the future of the United States.

He warned that, with the GOP appearing to be struggling internally with its identity, it was opening a door for the Democratic Party to “dominate presidential elections and likely control one or even both chambers of the Congress.”