A Senate committee on Thursday passed a rebuke of the tech giants for leading the Justice Department’s antitrust division, sending his nomination to the full Senate for a final vote.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to nominate Jonathan Kanter to lead the division without taking into account how each legislator voted. But a Republican senator, John Cornyn of Texas, asked to be marked as voting against the nomination.
Mr. Kanter said during the confirmation hearing that he supported “strong antitrust enforcement in the technology sector”. As a lawyer in private practice, Mr. Kanter has represented critics of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple – helping them bring an antitrust case against the tech giants.
If confirmed by the full Senate, as is widely expected, he will join other Silicon Valley critics in key antitrust positions. Lina Khan, a young law scholar who has written a popular review of Amazon, leads the Federal Trade Commission. Another scholar arguing for more antitrust enforcement against big companies, Tim Wu, holds an economic policy role in the White House.
Some lawmakers praised Mr. Kanter on Thursday, saying he is the right man to tackle the problems of business concentration across the economy.
“We believe in letting the market work,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota. “And the market isn’t really doing really well right now for some people.”
Mr Cornyn, who voted against the nomination, said he shared Mr Kanter’s concerns about the tech industry but worried that he would “use antitrust tools as a hammer to achieve his goals”. political or social purposes”.
Mr. Kanter’s critics also question whether he can end up prosecuting cases he promotes as a lawyer for the tech giants’ competitors. The Justice Department sued Google, arguing that it illegally maintained a monopoly on online search. And they are investigating whether Apple violated antitrust laws.