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Progressives pressure Schumer to call a vote on antitrust bills

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With a months-long recess on the horizon, House progressives are urging Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to act fast on two competition bills that would better equip antitrust enforcers to take on major tech firms.

In a letter sent to Schumer on Friday, more than a dozen Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders urged the Senate majority leader to schedule a vote on two bills in the coming weeks.

“It is time for Congress to vote on this legislation,” the lawmakers wrote. “These bills are ready for a vote and we urge you to schedule the vote on them in the next few weeks.”

The bills – the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICO) and Open Markets Act –were introduced on the heels of a 16-month long congressional investigation into possible anticompetitive behavior by Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook’s parent company Meta. If enacted, AICO would restrict dominant platforms from favoring their own products or services over those of their competitors on their own platforms. Additionally, the Open Markets Act would bar companies like Apple and Google that operate app stores from setting onerous and expensive rules for developers.

In May, Axios reported that Schumer planned to hold a vote on AICO this summer so long as there were 60 senators who would vote to approve it. But last week, The Washington Post reported that at least a dozen senators, including necessary Democrats like Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA), were undecided on how they would potentially vote. Without support from every Democrat and ten Republicans, the measures couldn’t overcome the filibuster and would fail on the floor.

That hasn’t dissuaded Democrats like Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), an AICO author, from pressuring their Senate colleagues to support the bill they argue has overwhelming support from both progressive and conservative voters.

Last week, sixteen demanded Schumer recuse himself from any antitrust legislation set to regulate large tech companies, according to Bloomberg. The groups said that he had a conflict of interest as his daughters work at Meta and Amazon.

In a nearly hour-long floor speech this week, Klobuchar emphasized the urgency in passing her bill. “These dominant tech platforms have abused their power for years, and now we are at a crossroad,” Klobuchar said. “Will America continue to be a place where entrepreneurs lead our economy forward or will we become a country where a handful of monopolists dictate who gets a chance to succeed?”

The future of the bills remains unclear. With mounting legislative priorities – from budget reconciliation to codifying gay marriage – the time to put the competition bills up for a floor vote is rapidly shrinking. If antitrust reform doesn’t pass before August, it’s unlikely the bills would be approved this year as the attention of lawmakers turns to this year’s midterm elections.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Schumer remained noncommittal. “I support these bills. I want to bring them to the floor,” Schumer told reporters. “We have to see if we have 60 votes.”

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