Chuck Grassley demands a vote on Chuck Schumer’s call on Big Tech’s antitrust law
It’s been months since Senator Chuck Schumer was expected to vote on an antitrust bill designed to rein in big tech companies — and his biggest Republican supporter slams the New York gentleman for dragging his feet.
“It’s time the Majority Leader introduces a bipartisan antitrust bill, which limits Big Tech’s anticompetitive behavior,” Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told The Post. “We need a specific date for the vote, and I’m calling on Senator Schumer to name one — if not before the August recess, then this fall.”
The renewed escalation comes as the Senate prepares for two final legislative weeks before the August recess, after which many members will be busy with midterm campaigns.
“The Senate has spent weeks on purely partisan legislation or unimportant candidates,” Grassley said.
Grassley wants Schumer to take a vote on a bill he’s pushing alongside Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) that supporters say would reduce the power of tech giants like Amazon and Meta to stifle competition in the market. Axios reported in May that Schumer was planning to vote “early summer” for the bill, but that season has since come and gone.
Bloomberg reported Thursday that while Schumer waited his time, Amazon, Apple, Meta and Google combined spent more than $35 million in just the first half of this year on lobbying efforts. Companies have also flooded the air in the Beltway with commercials opposing antitrust bills and bought advertising space in influential newsletters such as the Politico Playbook.
“Sen. Klobuchar and I have worked meticulously to prepare our legislation for a vote on the ground,” Grassley said. “All the while, the tech giants’ lobbying armies continue to mislead about our bill.”
The Internet Innovation and Choice Act – otherwise known as the “Non-Discrimination Act” – would prevent platforms from “self-favoring” their content. For example, Amazon will not be able to promote its own merchandise to third-party sellers on its e-commerce platform.
While Schumer called for a vote on a bill that would fund chip makers and push to legalize marijuana, he objected to the antitrust law. He has said he’s not ready to put it to a vote until sponsors can prove they have 60 votes to pass.
Klobuchar and Grassley have repeatedly promised they will have the votes needed for the bill — but when the Washington Post earlier this month asked all the offices of the 100 senators how they would vote, the vast majority did not provide a yes or no answer.
Speaking to a top GOP Senate aide, that leaves Grassley and Klobuchar with the “chicken and egg” problem.
According to the aide, who asked not to be named, 60 senators won’t come out publicly in support of the bill right now, especially if they know the legislation isn’t a priority for either party leadership. But if Schumer puts the matter to a vote, many senators will bow to pressure and vote for it, the aide predicted.
“Klobuchar needs commitments to make to Schumer, but no one wants to sign up until they have to,” the aide said. “A lot of members seem happy to continue sitting on the fence, no matter how they may vote in the end.”
Insiders say several Democrats, including California senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, are likely to vote against the legislation. That means Grassley will have to muster at least ten GOP votes to push the bill.
Still others insist that “neither the Senate nor the House of Representatives has the votes to pass the legislation.”
Business lobby groups, including the Chamber of Commerce and Grover Norquist’s American for Tax Reform, have been making Grassley’s job more difficult by urging Republicans to vote against the bill and other proposals for months. Both groups took money from major tech companies that would be affected by the bill.
In July, Americans for Tax Reform urged GOP lawmakers to sign a draft letter of opposition to the bill addressed to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kiefay). .
The previously unreported letter claimed that the bill would “increase the size and scope of government, worsen conservative oversight, and increase inflationary pressure on American families” and force tech companies into a “mother-may-be” relationship with the federal government. ”
Meanwhile, on the left side of the Democratic Party, more than a dozen members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus sent Schumer a letter Friday, writing that two antitrust bills including the Grassley-Klobuchar bill “are ready for a vote and we urge you to schedule a vote on them.” In the next few weeks.”
A separate coalition of progressive nonprofits including Fight for the Future and the American Economic Freedoms Project sent another letter to the majority leader Friday, arguing that he should step down from voting decisions because two of his daughters work for Meta and Amazon. News of his daughters’ jobs was first reported by The Post.
“Senator Schumer supports this bill and is working with Senator Klobuchar to get the votes,” Schumer spokesman Angelo Ruffaro told The Post.
However, even if bills bypass the Senate, the accompanying bills must bypass the House – which some insiders say could be an even bigger hurdle.
While Schumer said he supports both the Klobuchar-Grassley bills, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has not, instead saying generally that she supports technology regulation.
Pelosi has come under scrutiny for taking advantage of these technology companies, as her husband Paul has actively made millions trading shares of companies like Google.
A spokesman for Pelosi did not respond to a request for comment.