In an interview, Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) said that the “American Innovation and Choice Online Act” will never make it to the Senate floor. Despite Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s strident protestations to the contrary, it is becoming increasingly clear that the bill just does not have nearly enough support to get across the finish line.
Sen. Chuck Grassley has said that the bill would “easily” pass the Senate, even forecasting two dozen Republican votes for the legislation. “That’s not true,” Cornyn said, adding that the bill is “not coming to the floor. It’s a half-baked idea.” Cornyn also highlighted his opposition to the bill during its January markup by Senate Judiciary. Cornyn blasted the bill for its numerous cybersecurity issues and said that “it’s really an attack on the free enterprise system and going after companies just because they’re successful.”
Cornyn’s statement confirms the raw truth that Democrats have spent the past summer denying – the AICOA did not have enough support to become law. Sen. Schumer attempted to claim to fundraisers that a lack of required Republican votes were holding up the bill. As early as June, however, four Democratic senators, Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), sent a letter to Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn), the primary sponsor of the legislation, expressing their concerns that the bill would “hinder content moderation.” Such expression of doubt regarding the merits of this legislation from members of Senator Klobuchar’s own party proved to be an early dire sign regarding its fate.
In private, even Sen. Schumer admits that AICOA doesn’t have 60 votes.
In conjunction with these concerns came data from polls commissioned by Gallup and The Trafalgar Group that show Americans primarily care about inflation and have little interest in antitrust reform. Obama Administration National Economic Council Director Larry Summers bolstered the significance of these polls with his warnings that the policies pursued in this bill could “easily” have inflationary effects. In addition to his concerns, organic bipartisan opposition to the legislation emerged as the US Chamber of Commerce, Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, and multiple Senate Democrats, whose aides confided their reservations to the press on the condition of anonymity, expressed serious doubts about the legislation.
This fervent opposition from the public comes in light of Democrats receiving disastrous poll numbers. The latest of these polls indicate that over 70 percent of Americans believe that the country is on the wrong track. Given that this country has been governed by a Democratic White House and Congress for the past 18 months, those numbers bode especially poorly for Democrats. Steamrolling an already-unpopular bill through Congress would simply be impossible for them due to their lack of political capital.
In July, the Washington Post completed an informal vote tally for the AICOA in which they assessed Senator Klobuchar’s claim at an unusually awkward press conference that, “We wouldn’t be asking for a vote if we didn’t think we could get sixty votes.” Based on their investigation, they found that twelve senators, including multiple Democrats, were still reviewing the bill and were unsure if they wanted to support the bill. Only 17 Senators support the bill, well short of the 60 needed for Senate passage. Multiple other lawmakers, including Democratic Sen. Wyden (one of the signatories for the letter), stated that they were “not ready to support” the AICOA. The Post ultimately concluded that, “[the AICOA] proponents’ confidence may be overstated.”
Only this week did Sen. Klobuchar admit that there would not be a vote on her pet project this summer, despite the clear signs of this result months ago. Ever the optimist, Sen. Klobuchar still believes that a vote on the bill will happen this fall. However, too many legislators and too much of the public understand the negative implications of this bill to fall for any Democratic attempts to gaslight them into supporting the bill. Legislators ought not fall for Klobuchar’s tricks after the summer recess to push her pet project. They must stick with their gut instincts and preserve the open market.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons