Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) blocked Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-Utah) bipartisan State Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act, the second time Democrats have blocked unanimous consent on the legislation. Despite its popularity and likely passage if called for a Senate vote, Durbin is holding the bill hostage to pressure Congress into passing Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) controversial American Innovation and Choice Online Act (S.2992).
The Lee bill would allow state attorneys general to try antitrust cases at their preferred venues, giving parity to federal antitrust enforcers. This legislation has bipartisan support. Klobuchar and Durbin have blocked the bill, the least controversial of the antitrust package, until AICOA gets a vote.
The Klobuchar bill limits the ability of companies to engage in activities that lower costs for consumers. An example of this comes from its ban on companies with a market capitalization of over $550 billion and 50 million monthly users from promoting their own “products, services, or lines of business” next to those of a competing business in a way that would “materially harm competition.” In other words, certain companies would be unable to promote its own cheaper name-brand alternatives for any products against more expensive competitors just because of their size and online presence. Banning this practice would be akin to banning Costco from selling Kirkland paper towels next to Bounty paper towels. Amazon would also be banned from offering free two-day Prime shipping or selling AmazonBasics products that are often cheaper than the name brands. During a time of high inflation rates where Americans are paying more for gas, food and other basic needs, the last thing that Congress should be pushing is legislation that makes it tougher for companies to offer cheaper products to consumers.
Instead of passing constructive legislation, Democratic leadership is attempting to ram through antitrust bills that will only add to the economic pain that consumers are facing today. Democrats are continuing to prove that pushing an extremist progressive agenda means more to them than working to address the issues that concern the American people.