The House Judiciary Committee advanced a bill to prevent companies like
The legislation was the fifth bill out of six being taken up by the committee in a session that ran for nearly 20 hours into early Thursday morning, before breaking until later in the day. The measure, sponsored by antitrust subcommittee Chair
The marathon session featured recurring clashes over whether software giant
The extensive back and forth featured debate about antitrust principles, content moderation, freedom of speech and even how legislation should define a foreign adversary. These discussions didn’t fall along party lines, and in some cases showed disagreement among Democrats and found Republicans pitted against each other.
A White House official said President
The four tech-focused bills are tailored to affect just a handful of large companies, including Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google and possibly Microsoft. Colorado Representative
Other Republicans disagreed with that approach. Texas Representative
Still, the five bills approved so far received bipartisan support -- a testament to the widespread anger in Washington at how the biggest tech companies have expanded their economic and political power unchecked over the last few decades, a trend that accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic.
Tech trade groups have lashed out at the legislation, arguing that it will diminish consumer choice, slow innovation and hurt small businesses.
Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, applauded the collaboration between Republicans and Democrats, not only in drafting the legislation, but also in last year’s 16-month investigation of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.
On Thursday afternoon, the committee was considering its last bill, which was offered by Washington state Representative
“The dominant platforms’ dual ownership creates a clear conflict of interest, an irresistible urge if you will, for platforms to preference their own business lines over competitors,” Jayapal said during the hearing. “In simple language, this would be like being the person who sets the rules of the game, calls all the plays on the field, while also playing on one of the teams,” Jayapal said.
Two other tech-focused bills advanced by the committee on Wednesday would make it easier for enforcers to block acquisitions by companies that meet the bills’ criteria and require them to allow users to move their data to different services.
The other two bills considered on Wednesday represent modest measures to support antitrust enforcers. Those two have companion bills in the Senate, which gives them a clearer path to becoming law.
House leaders haven’t said when -- or if -- there will be a full floor vote on the Judiciary Committee bills. Passing legislation through the Senate is even more difficult as it would require bipartisan support.
(Adds Jayapal comment in 12th paragraph. An earlier version of this story corrected the vote tally in second paragraph)
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