Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Ken Buck, R-Colo., are seen during House Judiciary Committee markup at the Rayburn Building on Wednesday, May 8, 2019.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. , Getty Images
tech giants Google, Amazon And Apple Relief from some of the companies’ most controversial and allegedly anti-competitive business practices in Congress this year is likely to come with relief — even if the legislation generally has broad bipartisan support.
The new Republican leadership in the US House doesn’t seem to have the appetite to impose tough antitrust rules on tech giants to ensure they don’t abuse their dominant position in the market to block smaller rivals, Rep. Ken Buck, R- We do. Colo., the former top Republican on the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust issues, said in an interview.
The GOP also doesn’t want to give the Biden administration more power and resources, House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told CNBC in a separate interview.
“I don’t think Speaker McCarthy, Chairman Jordan or Chairman Massey are advocates of a pro-competition solution to the antitrust, Big Tech problem,” Buck said. Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust Although Buck was next in line to chair the panel as the ranking Republican in the previous Congress, Jordan, R-Ohio, chose Massey, R-Ky., to lead the subcommittee in this Congress.
Buck, who has been an outspoken critic of the tech giants for years, says stricter antitrust rules will help create a fairer market for smaller tech firms competing against Amazon, Google, Facebook and other big tech companies that rely on They have been accused of using their platform. To promote one’s own proprietary products or services above those of competitors.
Asked whether his campaign to rein in tech giants through antitrust and co-sponsoring of bills with Democrats could cost him the chairmanship of the antitrust panel, Buck said, “Nobody’s ever told me that.” Didn’t say but I think it’s fair to draw conclusions.”
Jordan said GOP leaders reconstituted the committee with lawmakers who want to curb what they see as excessive regulations by the Biden administration, including by the Federal Trade Commission, instead strengthening industry oversight.
Jordan said in an interview with CNBC, “We felt that Thomas Macy was appropriate in the way that we were structuring the Judiciary Committee. We are thinking about whether we want to give more powers to those agencies.” Want.” “There is no one more focused on limiting the size and scope of government than Thomas Massey.”
While tech companies may be shielded from costly new regulations that threaten to isolate them — for now — the industry may not be entirely safe from scrutiny on Capitol Hill. House Republican leaders want to see whether tech firms are censoring conservative voices, according to a tech industry aide of McCarthy’s who declined to be named to speak freely about private conversations with GOP leadership.
Jordan has already summoned the CEOs of Google parent Alphabet, Amazon, Apple. meta And Microsoftsought communications between the companies and the US government “to understand how and to what extent the executive branch coerced and colluded with the companies and other intermediaries to censor speech.”
Jordan has repeatedly questioned the usefulness of the antitrust bill over the years, preferring to focus on what he sees as censorship of conservative voices by major tech platforms. In June 2021, during a 23-hour markup of a package of antitrust bills supported by Reps. David Cicilline, DR.I, and Buck, Jordan said the legislation did not go far enough to address those censorship concerns.
Buck, meanwhile, previously told CNBC that the problem of bias on platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook is “symptom of an overall problem” of insufficient competition online. This is because there are a few major companies that run the biggest platforms.
Representatives for Meta and Microsoft referred CNBC to previous statements where they said they were cooperating with Jordan’s subpoenas. All the other tech giants mentioned in this article did not respond to requests for comment.
Last year, advocates for reforming antitrust laws were optimistic about the prospect of passing major legislation that would strengthen competition rules for online shopping platforms, mobile apps and other relatively new technologies. The major proposal at the time was the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, supported by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who was the ranking member at the time. Full committee. Although it passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee and similar legislation advanced through the House Judiciary Committee, it did not go to the floor of either chamber for a vote.
An antitrust bill Buck introduced in May drew bipartisan support from opposite ends of the political spectrum: Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., among others. That legislation, which would have barred large digital advertising platforms like Google from owning many parts of the system for buying and selling such ads, may still have a chance of passage in this Congress, Buck says.
Tech companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying the US government over the years. Apple, which was the target of two major bills last year, spent more on lobbying in the first quarter of 2022 than in any other quarter, spending $2.5 million in that period and $9.4 million on lobbying for the entire year — compared 44% increase in spending in 2021,
Supporters of the bills expressed hope after the August recess that they might still have a chance at the end of the two-year congressional session when lawmakers often jam through popular resolutions. But that phase came and went without any action from the Congress on the biggest no-confidence bill. Congress passed a bill to help increase funding to enforcement agencies and another empowered state AGs to choose the district where they wanted to conduct their antitrust trials.
the senate leads
As for Buck, he’s looking for the Senate to pass any antitrust legislation earlier in this Congress so it can gain momentum in the House.
He may have to do so without Cicilline, a close ally on antitrust issues who chaired the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee during its probe into Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook. The Democrat is set to leave Congress later this year to become president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation.
One of the bills Buck said he is taking a close look at is the Competition and Transparency in Digital Advertising Act, which was introduced in the last Congress and cosponsored by Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Ted Cruz. Was sponsored in the Senate. , R-Texas, among others. If passed and becomes law, Google, Facebook and Amazon could be forced to sell off major parts of their advertising businesses. Buck sponsored a similar companion bill in the House.
Asked how he plans to counter Big Tech since no longer steering the subcommittee, Buck replied: “Well, that’s a good question and if you have an answer to that I’ll Would like to know,” he said. “I don’t chair the subcommittee, I don’t chair the entire committee. But I know the Senate is introducing the bill. And we will be introducing the bill on the House side.”
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