Biden on Controlling Big Tech at State of the Union 2023

IIn his first State of the Union address since Republicans won a narrow majority in the House, President Joe Biden called on Congress to seize on an issue on which there is growing bipartisan momentum but mighty obstacles in the way: stronger US antitrust law to crack down on Big Tech’s monopoly power.

“Pass bipartisan legislation to strengthen antitrust enforcement and prevent major online platforms from giving their own products an unfair advantage,” Biden told lawmakers Tuesday night, referring to the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. (AICOA). “Capitalism without competition is not capitalism,” he added. “It’s extortion. It is exploitation.

Biden’s renewed push comes after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer effectively killed two bipartisan antitrust bills last year aimed at cracking down on platform monopolies. While saying he supported the measures and promising a vote on them for months, the New York Democrat never introduced the package, even after the White House urged congressional leaders to send the bills at Biden’s office during the lame duck session after the midterm. elections.

Schumer insisted the bills lacked the votes needed to pass, contradicting the legislation’s main architects, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Washington. ‘Iowa. Grassley told TIME last fall that more than 20 Republicans were ready to vote for the package.

The AICOA legislation would have prohibited dominant technology companies like Amazon and Google from favoring their own products over competitors who must use their platforms to reach customers. A smaller complementary bill, the Open App Markets Act (OAMA), would have forced Apple and Google to open their app stores to rival markets. Both measures have sparked strange bedfellows; they were supported by most congressional Democrats—except for the California delegation—and some of the more conservative Republicans on Capitol Hill, including Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri and Representative Ken Buck of Colorado. Both bills passed the House and Senate Judiciary Committees by bipartisan margins. “It’s very clear that we have the votes to pass both of these bills in the House and in the Senate,” Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, author of the House version, told TIME this summer. .

Learn more: Schumer Kills Most Feared Big Tech Bills

Schumer, who as Senate Majority Leader controls bills that make it to the floor of the chamber, enraged anti-monopoly activists by blocking the legislation, which many had long feared he would play in Big Tech’s strategy of running out of time.

For much of the past year, Big Tech lobbying firms have waged a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to torpedo both bills, which some Hill sources suspect scared some Democrats out for re-election. in 2022. A Democratic congressional aide familiar with the matter told TIME that Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not want to subject her members to a tough vote without the measures first passing the Senate, where the motion required a majority of 60 votes.

Yet pushing bills forward now will be even more difficult with a divided government. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a native of California, opposes renewed enforcement of antitrust laws on big tech companies. The same goes for Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who counts Google among its biggest donors.

This intensifies the pressure on federal law enforcement agencies to crack down on monopoly companies and anti-competitive behavior over the next two years. It’s a reason why, as a consolation for never allowing a vote on the AICOA and OAMA bills, Schumer earmarked an additional $50 million for the Federal Trade Commission and $35 million for the Antitrust Division. of the Justice Department in last year’s spending bill, according to several Hill sources familiar with the negotiations. Both of these agencies are run by anti-monopoly crusaders – Lina Khan at the FTC and Jonathan Kanter at the DOJ.

The Majority Leader also authorized an amendment to the spending bill that allows these agencies to immediately collect higher fees from companies that need them to review proposed mergers, a move that should help the FTC and the DOJ to collectively raise approximately $1.4 billion over the next 10 years. years, according to a congressional aide familiar with the process.

But while those resources will make a difference for agencies — the FTC and DOJ have fewer attorneys now than they did in the 1980s, which means they’re often outmatched by tech giants. company they face in court — they’re unlikely to convince Congress needs to change federal laws to make it harder for tech giants to abuse their gatekeeper status.

“To my fellow Republicans, if we could work together in the last Congress, there’s no reason we can’t work together in this new Congress,” Biden said Tuesday night. “People sent us a clear message. Fighting for fighting, power for power, conflict for conflict, gets us nowhere.

But when it comes to antitrust legislation targeting Big Tech, it’s clear that Republicans aren’t Biden’s only obstacle.

More must-reads from TIME

contact us at


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button