House lawmakers on Wednesday began the process of considering a legislative package that would amend the nation’s antitrust laws in an effort to rein in the power of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.
During the day, members of the House Judiciary Committee are expected to vote on six bills that could stop tech giants from prioritizing their products online, forcing them to break up ministries. business division and generate more resources for law enforcement Silicon Valley police agencies. Skeptical lawmakers may propose amendments to the bills or oppose the measures outright.
The committee cast its first vote in the early afternoon, voting in favor of a bill that would increase the amount companies pay to government agencies when certain mergers are passed. That money could fund stronger enforcement of antitrust laws, its advocates say.
The bill was passed by the committee with 29 lawmakers in favor and 12 against. All Democrats present voted in favor of the bill and five Republicans joined them. Although it is considered one of the least controversial of the six measures, lawmakers debated the law for hours and considered numerous proposed amendments.
Late in the afternoon, the committee passed a second bill that would give state attorneys general the power to keep antitrust cases in courts of their choice. The bill – also among the least controversial proposals, supported by members of both parties and all state and territory attorney generals – would prevent companies from turning their antitrust challenges exclusive access to locations they may consider more favorable to them. The number of votes was 34 to 7.
Wednesday’s trading session is expected to continue throughout the day, potentially extending into early Thursday.
The bills, introduced this month, reflect growing concern about the strength of the biggest tech companies. The proposals have drawn support from members of both parties, unifying Democrats concerned about business getting out of control with Republicans, who fear the platform’s power online for online police content.
“The digital market is lacking in competition,” said Representative David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island and chair of the subcommittee focusing on antitrust. “Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are the gatekeepers of the online economy.”
The recommendations also have their share from the critics.
Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, and Mark Meadows, former chief of staff to President Donald J. Trump, said in a Fox News opinion column on Tuesday that if “you think Big Tech is bad now, just wait until Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google partner with Big Government. Some California Democrats are also concerned that the bills will slow down the state’s economic engine.
The tech giants have launched an active campaign to stop the bills. Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive officer, called on members of Congress to voice his concerns. Executives at other companies have issued statements opposing the bills in recent days. And many corporate-sponsored groups have urged lawmakers to oppose the proposal.