Tech antitrust legislation remains stalled as Schumer speaks to donors

Democrats last week urged Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to schedule votes on two pieces of tech antitrust legislation, but he last night told donors that he won’t do it yet.

At the heart of the impasse is a disagreement about whether enough senators would vote in favor of the two bills – one of which would have a big impact on Apple …


There have been growing concerns about the power and market dominance of a small number of tech giants. Congress has been working on multiple antitrust bills, each designed to tackle different issues. Two of these have progressed to the point where they are ready for a vote:

It is this second bill that poses the greatest threat to Apple, requiring big changes to the App Store business model, including allowing third-party app stores.

Apple has lobbied strongly against this, insisting that having sole control over the sale of iPhone apps is safer for consumers, but continued revelations about multimillion-dollar scams in the App Store have challenged this narrative.

Both bills now require Schumer to schedule votes. He has so far declined to do so, claiming that he supports the laws but wants to be sure they will pass. Others believe that he is less keen than he wishes people to believe, and that he is stalling in the hope that they get buried as attention turns to the midterm elections.

Tech antitrust legislation votes aren’t there, says Schumer

Bloomberg reports that Schumer told a roomful of his donors that he believes that one of the bills doesn’t yet have the 60 votes needed for it to pass.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told a group of donors that he doesn’t believe that there are enough votes in the Senate to pass a piece of antitrust legislation intended to pare back the power of the largest technology companies, according to people familiar with his remarks.

Schumer was asked about the measure, the American Choice and Innovation Online Act, during a question and answer session at a fundraiser on Tuesday evening.

He called the bill a “high priority,” but said the Senate doesn’t have the 60 votes needed to approve it.

Democrats disagree, for two reasons. First, both bills have bipartisan support.

As you know, these bills are the byproduct of a bipartisan, 16-month investigation led by the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law (Antitrust Subcommittee). This investigation was one of the most extensive and in-depth market investigations in congressional history.

Second, a range of opinion polls show strong public support for the legislation. While some senators may be ambivalent, it’s thought that most would want to be seen voting in favor, especially so close to the midterms. Schumer, however, is unmoved.

Every week that passes without a vote brings us closer to the summer recess. If votes are not held before then, there are fears that the legislation would be lost as senators focus more on their midterm campaigns than doing their job.

Photo: Eric Haynes/Edward M. Kennedy Institute

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