By: Tom Hebert
The House Judiciary Committee just concluded a marathon markup of six bills that would weaponize antitrust law and give Biden bureaucrats sweeping new regulatory power.
All six of the bills limped out of the Committee and were sent to the House floor. For the most part, conservatives rejected these bills.
One thing is clear – this half-baked antitrust package is not ready for prime time. Republican members need to continue to hold the line and vote NO on attempts to politicize antitrust law for Democrat political gain.
Instead of holding individual hearings on each of the bills, Judiciary leadership decided to rush through the entire package to a full committee markup just a week and a half after the bills were introduced.
The result? A markup that stretched over two days and more than 29 hours of debate. This is not surprising given the fact that some rank-and-file members first saw the bills through media leaks and had absolutely zero input while the legislation was being drafted.
Members on both sides of the aisle had serious concerns about the package’s sloppy language and how quickly the markup occurred. Ahead of the markup, eight house Democrats called on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to slow the package down.
A bipartisan statement from California Members pointed out the serious flaws in the antitrust package spearheaded by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.):
“The marathon markup – that started Wednesday morning, recessed as the sun came up on Thursday morning, and then reconvened for another four hours on Thursday – featured several bills that would radically change America’s leading tech companies and made crystal clear that the bill text as debated is not close to ready for Floor consideration.”
If implemented, these bills would significantly restrict targeted companies from engaging in routine business conduct. One bill bans targeted companies from acquiring smaller companies, choking off a key pathway to success for startups. Another bill would allow the government to structurally separate targeted companies that operate a line of business that an unelected bureaucrat deems to be a “conflict of interest.” Another bill effectively bans targeted companies from promoting private label goods to shoppers, which makes as much sense as banning grocery stores from selling generic cereal.
The drafters seem to be confused about the full scope of the package’s impact. Cicilline himself admitted that he doesn’t even know if Microsoft would be a covered platform, and that the ultimate decision would rest in the hands of Biden bureaucrats to decide which companies to target with antitrust action.
While some Republican Members offered amendments designed to improve the bills, ultimately the root problem is the same. Democrats are attempting to convince conservatives that the best way to address Big Tech censorship is to let Biden bureaucrats “fix” the problem.
In reality, these bills don’t do a single thing to address legitimate conservative anger over Big Tech. Giving the Biden administration even more power would increase political abuse of conservatives and screw up the goods and services Americans use every day.
These bills are nowhere close to being ready for prime time. Republicans should continue to reject these half-baked ideas.