Chuck Schumer delays antitrust vote to curb big tech

By the beginning of this year, The Senate Judiciary Committee has made significant progress in passing two major pieces of antitrust legislation. The U.S. Internet Innovation and Choice Act and the Open Marketplace Apps Act, which promise to crack down on big tech, have received public support from five Democrats and four Republicans in a group within reach of the minimum 11 needed to push the bills. Senate Hall.

However, legislators on both sides of the aisle did not enjoy fighting the huge industry and publicly and privately raised serious concerns, leaving the results of the two votes in doubt. However, given the popularity of the law—or, more accurately, the unpopularity of big technology—judicial committee chairman Dick Durbin, of Illinois, calculated that opposition would fade in broad daylight. Forced to vote publicly, how many senators will choose to side with Big Tech over the public?

Both bills were accepted by the committee unconditionally. In January, the American Internet Choice and Innovation Act passed 16 votes to 6, with every Democrat and five Republicans Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, and John Kennedy of Louisiana – supports. Then, a few weeks later, in February, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Open Application Markets Act by a vote of 20 to 2, with only Senators John Cornyn, D.T., and Tom Tillis, R.N.C. opposed.

Asked by Olx Praca how he managed to get the first bill through committee despite not having a firm commitment to support, Durbin said opposition “melted” when Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota’s sponsor of the bill, pushed committee members forward. votes. “Sep. Klobuchar has been working overtime on this bipartisan bill and most of his opponents have been melting, melting,” he said.

Neither bill is publicly supported by a majority of senators, who have only 12 and 10 co-sponsors, respectively. But Durbin’s strategy offers a clear path to passage: put the bill on the table and force senators to oppose it.

Full voting would probably be a breakthrough for Big Tech; The best chance for companies to stop legislation is to keep it out of the Senate, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., told the bill’s supporters they won’t get votes until they get commitments from 60 senators. , as first reported by Politico Pro. Obtaining these commitments without requiring the senator to come forward is much more difficult than getting them to take a seat in the boardroom.

Sumer, who becomes the main obstacle to the passage of the law, family ties with big technology. One of his daughters is an Amazon lobbyist and the other works for Facebook, the New York Post reported in January. Angelo Rofero, a spokesman for Schumer, dismissed the idea that his family connections could have any impact on the antitrust bills, telling the news outlet, “Sep. Schumer advocates for these issues both in law and through his appointments to federal agencies. He will fight for action and success that will provide a fairer and more innovative playing field for all.”

Both bills have a big technical wobble. The American Internet Innovation and Choice Act aims to prevent major online platforms such as Google and Amazon from prioritizing their products and services over their competitors. The Open App Markets Act aims to prevent Apple and Google from giving preferential treatment to their own products on the App Store and Google Play, respectively.

Among the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, representing California, where many big technology companies are headquartered, Delaware Senator Chris Koons and Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy have raised concerns about at least one of the bills. Neither of them co-sponsored these measures, but in a sign of what might happen if Schumer took them to the floor, they ended up backing them on the committee.

Big tech firms and their Washington DC proxies have taken advantage of the wait time to lobby for bills. According to The Hill, the American Edge Project, an advocacy group backed by Facebook’s parent company Meta, and lobbying groups funded by Amazon and Google. launched a seven-figure ad campaign against the US Internet Innovation and Choice Act. In a new video uploaded to YouTube on April 12, retired Gen. Joseph Dunford, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other former senior national security officials warn of the need to “harden American technology” amid threats from Russia and China. .