Saturday, August 20, 2022

Senate moves one precious step closer to passing Big Tech antitrust law

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Under pressure from progressives and tech hawks on both sides of the aisle, Senate Leader Chuck Schumer plans to vote as early as this fall on the bipartisan antitrust bill targeting tech giants. a new report from the New York Post on Thursday.

The bill — the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICO) — would restrict dominant technology platforms, such as Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook’s parent company Meta, from favoring their own products and services on their platforms over those of their competitors.

Earlier this year, Schumer vowed to vote on the legislation this summer as long as there are 60 senators who would approve it. But as Congress approached the August recess, at least a dozen senators, including necessary Democrats like Senator Jon Ossoff (GA), were still on the fence, The Washington Post reported last month.

In a statement to The edge on Friday, a Schumer spokesperson said: “Sen. Schumer is working with Senator Klobuchar and other supporters to gather the necessary votes and plans to put it to the vote.” Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) are co-sponsoring the bill.

With the AICO on its way to final approval, major tech companies have continued to spend money, investing more than $35 million in total in Congressional lobbying over the past year. Amazon, which would be barred from artificially upgrading its private label products, spent a record $4.98 million on lobbying in the second quarter alone. according to Bloomberg.

Schumer’s statement on Thursday is the strongest signal yet that the Senate could pass an antitrust overturn this year. But his commitment to holding an AICO vote did not come without pressure from progressives and supportive lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Last month, The edge reported that more than a dozen leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus sent a letter to Schumer urging him to vote before lawmakers left Washington for the August recess. But other Democratic priorities, such as budget reconciliation and veterans’ care, got in the way.

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