Senator Amy Klobuchar has been working on a Big Tech bill that she was hoping to slide through the Senate under the guise of an antitrust bill, targeting the largest tech companies in Silicon Valley. The proposal had some initial Republican support, but what started out as a fast-tracked measure to bring about reform has stalled, thanks in large part to Klobuchar’s own reluctance to actually work with Republicans.
Back in February, the signs were there. Klobuchar had the support of some Republicans, but it soon became clear she wasn’t interested in their ideas.
Her bill initially had support from Republicans like Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and John Kennedy (R-Louisiana), but the former has reportedly been backing away from it and the latter may want to walk away entirely.
Here and at the Wall Street Journal, among other places, Republicans have been warned that they were stepping into a trap, and Klobuchar seems ready to spring it as she works to make the bill more palatable to Democratic Senators Big Tech’s primary home.
The Hill is reporting that Senate Democrats are pushing the bill forward with Chuck Schumer, aiming for an “early summer” vote. But there’s a problem: This isn’t one of those “reconciliation” things where Schumer can pass a bill with his 50 Democrats plus Kamala Harris. For this one, he needs GOP votes. And he’s going to need more than the usual ten because vulnerable Senate Democrats up for re-election seem to be bailing on the legislation.
While Republicans have been urging Klobuchar to make some meaningful amendments to make the bill worth coming together on, the Democrats have largely ignored them and amended the bill as they saw fit. From Bloomberg just recently:
Klobuchar tried to address her colleagues’ concerns in a Democratic caucus lunch last month, according to Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), a co-sponsor who still backs the legislation.
Since then, several other Senate Democrats, including Cory Booker (N.J.), a co-sponsor of the measure, and Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (Wash.), whose state is home to Amazon’s headquarters, have indicated they’re undecided on how they would vote on the floor.
Senate Intelligence Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.), another co-sponsor, said he is digging into concerns raised by former intelligence officials that the bill would unintentionally curtail platforms’ ability to target disinformation and safeguard users in the US and abroad.
So Mazie Hirono, the Democratic Senators from California, and Corey Booker all get their issues heard and the bill amended as they see fit (especially the California politicians, who represent Silicon Valley). As a result, Republicans appear to be walking away.
With no Republican support, the bill is officially doomed.
Both Republicans and Democrats have looked at ways to curb the influence of Big Tech in news and politics, but with little agreement on how it should actually look. Various measures have been discussed and introduced, and this bill was one of those ideas. However, it introduced a ton of unnecessary regulations and forced companies not to promote their own apps over other companies’ apps. The result would have been more government interference in private business where there didn’t need to be any.
And it looks like Democrats plan to argue that taking action on antitrust proves they’re “doing something” on inflation, their number one electoral liability. That’s why Schumer wants to pass this in “early summer”—so he can campaign on it in the fall… which is all the more reason Republicans should be (and, according to sources, are) walking away from the bill, leaving it with no path forward.