WASHINGTON – Business groups spent record amounts during this year’s congressional elections, in support of mostly Republican candidates. Now, these groups hope their investment pays off on everything from lower corporate taxes to a resumption of free-trade agreements.

“The results augur well,” said John Engler, president of the influential National Association of Manufacturers. Engler is a former Republican governor of Michigan who could barely contain his glee Wednesday in a conference call with reporters.

Among his expectations were that GOP gains will ensure that all of the Bush-era tax cuts set to expire this year will be extended, and that large-scale efforts to force businesses to reduce carbon emissions or to allow unions an easier route to organizing won’t see the light of day.

“Whether it’s tax law, environmental policy (or) labor policy, keeping everything up in the air does not trigger confidence,” he said.

Manufacturers accuse the Obama administration of trying to circumvent Congress by having the Environmental Protection Agency write regulations to curb carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming. Engler expects a GOP-controlled House of Representatives “to be more aggressive in asserting that congressional prerogative make the policy in this area.”

However, President Barack Obama on Wednesday refused to rule out using the EPA to regulate carbon emissions.

The most active group in the last campaign was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been openly hostile to the Obama administration.

“Voters have resoundingly rejected more government spending, higher taxes and more burdensome regulations that have caused crippling uncertainty for businesses. We agree with voters across the nation who clearly stated that a strong and vibrant private sector is critical to reviving our economy, creating jobs, and putting us on a path to long-term growth,” chamber President Thomas J. Donohue said in a statement.

What Donohue didn’t say is that businesses already are sitting on an estimated $2 trillion in cash, unwilling to invest or hire because they doubt the demand is there with the unemployment rate seemingly anchored near 10 percent.

The question one day after the GOP gains is whether the heavy spending by business will translate into direct results on most of their agenda.

“Probably not — it often happens that way,” said Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a center-right policy research group.

With voters angry at the status quo in Washington and the tea party movement threatening to oust moderate Republicans, there’s likely to be a greater focus on cutting spending and reducing the deficit than on broad policy changes sought by business, he said.