Thomas "Tom" Donohue, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, speaks in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will  play a significant role in the 2014 elections and intends to work hard to elect "pro-business" candidates in the House and the Senate, the head of the powerful lobby group said Wednesday.

In his annual State of American Business speech, Thomas J. Donohue, the Chamber's president and chief executive, set out an ambitious agenda, and warned that the group would use this year's elections as "a motivator for change." The approach, he said, was based on a simple theory: "If you can't make them see the light, then at least make them feel some heat."