Executives from across US industry called for a peaceful transfer of power as Donald Trump refused to concede the presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden.
“Now is a time for unity,” said Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank by assets. “We must respect the results of the US presidential election and, as we have with every election, honour the decision of the voters and support a peaceful transition of power.”
Bill Ackman, the billionaire hedge fund manager, advised Mr Trump to admit defeat.
“There comes a time in the battle when one should fold the tent,” he wrote on Twitter. “Think about your legacy and what’s best for the country. Concede graciously and call for unity from all who have supported you.”
In the days before the election, business groups had signalled their concern that Mr Trump might contest the results, urging patience as all votes were counted. They reiterated their calls on Saturday after media outlets declared Mr Biden had won the election and Mr Trump refused to accept the results.
“Americans have voted in historic numbers and it is important to complete the election process by fully counting every vote and resolving any disputes,” said Tom Donohue, CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce.
The Business Roundtable said in a statement: “While we respect the Trump campaign’s right to seek recounts, to call for investigation of alleged voting irregularities where evidence exists and to exhaust legitimate legal remedies, there is no indication that any of these would change the outcome.”
Jason Oxman, chief executive of the technology trade association ITI, said, “America’s proud tradition of a peaceful transition of power must continue.” Doing so was “essential to providing certainty and stability to American workers and families and the global business community, and to furthering America’s competitiveness around the globe,” he said.
The chamber and other business groups also called for more bipartisan collaboration in a Congress, where Democrats are on course to have a slimmer majority in the House of Representatives and control of the Senate remains uncertain.
“The American people have spoken, and they have chosen a leader who throughout this campaign spoke of healing and bipartisanship,” said Jay Timmons, chief executive of the National Association of Manufacturers.
“It should be clear from the gains made by the Republican Party in this election that the American people are not interested in extreme policies from either party; they are looking for smart, stable and solutions-oriented governance,” he argued.
The election had “tested our nation”, Mr Timmons said, as he noted that Mr Biden was set to take office in the face of “crises of historic proportions and deep divisions”.
Industry groups and individual companies were swift to present their legislative wish lists, with the chamber saying that its most urgent legislative priority was further pandemic relief, followed by investment to modernise US infrastructure.
The NAM called for a “competitive” tax and regulatory system, infrastructure investment, comprehensive immigration reform, expanded trade and a “strengthened” workforce. The US Travel Association urged further stimulus for businesses that were “integral to a US economic turnround” and Microsoft set out its wish to see investments in rural broadband and digital skills.
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president, also voiced hopes shared by many in the business community that a Biden administration would co-ordinate more closely with other countries on issues from climate change to regulation.
The global challenges industry faced required “stronger collaboration” between the US and the rest of the world, he said, and would need the US “to move from debates about why we cannot succeed to conversations about how we can.”