The top Republican backer of a stalled antitrust bill demanded President Joe Biden take an “active role” in ending the nearly year-long logjam over the bipartisan legislation that cracks down on Big Tech.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who co-sponsored The Internet Innovation and Choice Act with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), wants Biden to pressure Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to include elements of their antitrust bill in the omnibus package that must be passed by the end of the year.
“If the President wants to accomplish something on this front, then the White House needs to start taking an active role in pushing Leader Schumer and the Democratic caucus to bring this bill to a vote before the year is out,” Grassley told The Post.
Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi reportedly hammered out a framework for the appropriations bill on Wednesday – avoiding a government shutdown. However, the details have yet to be finalized before a final vote this week.
“Sen. Grassley should pick up the phone and tell Mitch McConnell everything he’s telling The Post,” Angelo Roefaro, a spokesperson for Schumer, told The Post on Thursday.
The antitrust bill was passed by the House in February but has languished in the Senate despite Schumer‘s continued vow to bring it to a vote. It would prevent platforms from “self-preferencing” their content. For instance, Amazon would no longer be able to promote its own goods over third-party sellers on its e-commerce site.
The bill has faced massive headwinds from deep-pocketed Big Tech lobbyists. Amazon, Apple, Meta and Google combined to spend more than $35 million in just the first half of the year on lobbying efforts, Bloomberg reported.
The companies have also flooded Beltway airwaves with commercials opposing antitrust bills and bought ad space in influential newsletters like Politico Playbook.
“If you don’t count all the paid shills working for Big Tech, Schumer is the last guy in Washington holding out on this legislation ” said Luther Lowe, Senior Vice President of Public Policy at Yelp.
Proponents of the antitrust legislation say the omnibus package, which will appropriate government funding for the next year, is the perfect vehicle to end the stalemate.
Insiders add that there is a major push from lawmakers who support antitrust legislation to include key provisions from other proposed bills seeking to throttle Big Tech.
“Even people who are whining about where the commas go in the omnibus aren’t opposed to legislation that reins in tech companies,” an insider told The Post. “Leveling the playing field in the Big Tech space isn’t super controversial.”
There’s more than Big Tech money pushing against the antitrust bills. At least 17 lawmakers tasked with oversight of Meta, Amazon, Google and Apple have children who work at — or recently worked for — those companies, Politico reported.
The Post reported that US Rep. Zoe Lofgren — a Democrat who’s one of the most vocal opponents of antitrust bills now winding their way through Congress that would target Big Tech — has a daughter who works on Google’s legal team.
The Post also reported that both of Schumer’s daughters are on the payroll of Big Tech firms. Jessica Schumer is a registered lobbyist at Amazon, according to New York state records. Alison Schumer works at Facebook as a product marketing manager.
People close to Schumer say he’s held off on holding a vote on the Innovation Act while focusing on other priorities like codifying gay marriage and passing the so-called Inflation Reduction Act.
But many Republicans have been left frustrated by Schumer’s failure to take on Big Tech.
“Sen. Schumer has been giving lip service to antitrust reform for over a year now,” Garrett Ventry, former chief of staff to Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), told The Post.
“If President Biden really wants antitrust reform, he will pressure Schumer to add it to the omnibus,” Ventry added.