House lawmakers began the process Wednesday of considering a legislative package that would reform the nation’s antitrust laws in an attempt to control the power of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.
Over the course of the day, members of the House Judiciary Committee are expected to vote on six bills that could prevent tech giants from prioritizing their own products online, force them to break up parts of their businesses, and generate more resources for forces. of order. agencies that monitor Silicon Valley. Skeptical lawmakers can propose amendments to the bills or directly oppose the measures.
The committee took its first vote in the early afternoon, voting in favor of a bill that would increase the amount of money companies pay to government agencies when some mergers are approved. That money could fund more aggressive enforcement of antitrust laws, supporters say.
The bill was approved by the committee with 29 legislators in favor and 12 against. All Democrats who were 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 the committee is considering, lawmakers still debated the legislation for hours and considered multiple proposed amendments.
Wednesday’s session is expected to continue throughout the day, possibly extending into the early hours of Thursday morning.
The bills, which were introduced this month, reflect growing concern about the power of the biggest tech companies. The proposals have garnered support from members of both parties, uniting Democrats concerned about out-of-control business with Republicans who fear the power of online platforms to control online content.
“The digital marketplace suffers from a lack of competition,” said Rep. David Cicilline, D-Rhode Island and chair of the antitrust subcommittee. “Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are guardians of the online economy”.
The proposals also have their share of criticism.
Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, and Mark Meadows, President Donald J. Trump’s former chief of staff, said in a Fox News op-ed Tuesday that if they “think great technology is bad now, wait until Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google are working in collusion with big government. ” Some California Democrats have also worried that the bills will slow the state’s economic engine.
The tech giants have mounted an aggressive campaign to block bills. Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, has been personally calling members of Congress to voice his concerns. Executives from other companies have made statements in recent days opposing the bills. And dozens of corporate-funded groups have urged lawmakers to oppose the proposals.