House Democrats propose antitrust overhaul to rein in big tech

But partisan disagreements over next steps may blunt the report’s immediate impact, despite a widespread desire to rein in Silicon Valley titans among both conservative and liberal lawmakers. Several of the committee’s Republicans, led by Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, endorsed some Democrat-backed proposals in a separate report unveiled Tuesday while warning that the majority’s more aggressive recommendations are “non-starters for conservatives.”

The investigation: The subcommittee issued Tuesday’s recommendations in a report that assailed the business practices of Silicon Valley’s most powerful companies, who lawmakers said have unfairly stifled competitors to the detriment of consumers. As part of the probe, lawmakers and staff have collected over a million documents, interviewed hundreds of witnesses and hauled in the companies’ CEOs to testify this summer.

Among other allegations, the panel investigated complaints that tech titans have trampled competitors by acquiring up-and-coming rivals and favoring their own products on the online storefronts they operate, such as Amazon’s Marketplace and Apple’s App Store.

“To put it simply, companies that once were scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons,” Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and subcommittee Chair David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said in the report. “Although these firms have delivered clear benefits to society, the dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google has come at a price.”

The proposals: The report calls for an array of changes, some of which boast bipartisan support while others have only Democratic backing.

Among them are Democratic proposals to ban major tech platforms from acquiring future startups or potential rivals and barring them from both owning marketplaces — such as Amazon’s sprawling e-commerce hub — and selling competing products on them.

The report also calls on Congress to grant federal antitrust enforcers new resources to police possible abuses by the major firms, despite decades of “institutional failure” where the agencies “failed to block monopolists from establishing or maintaining their dominance.” Recommendation include increasing budgets, allowing the Federal Trade Commission to seek civil penalties for violations and imposing stricter prohibitions on senior staff from the agencies doing work for the companies after their tenure.

Democratic subcommittee member Pramila Jayapal of Washington state said Tuesday that she expects lawmakers will quickly look to turn the policy recommendations into actionable legislation once Congress returns in 2021 — if not sooner.

“I do hope that we will have legislation introduced early in the session and we can ideally in a year move significant pieces of legislation,” she said in an interview.

Where the parties differ: Republican lawmakers said in a separate report Tuesday that they support boosting funding and staffing levels for regulators and some more modest proposals to change U.S. antitrust laws, but they balked at Democrats’ more aggressive proposals. They include what Cicilline has described as a Glass-Steagall law for technology platforms, a reference to the Depression-era law that split up commercial and investment

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Pelosi, Democrats unveil bills to rein in alleged White House abuses of power

Leading House Democrats on Wednesday unveiled sweeping legislation empowering Congress with more muscular oversight and anti-corruption tools to rein in alleged presidential abuses — present and future.

Behind Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare House lawmakers reach deal to avert shutdown Centrist Democrats ‘strongly considering’ discharge petition on GOP PPP bill MORE (D-Calif.), the Democrats are hoping to bolster the congressional checks on the executive branch, as outlined by the Constitution, including efforts to curb abuses of presidential pardons; prevent presidents from profiting personally from the office; and secure administrative compliance with congressional subpoenas.

The legislation has no chance of becoming law while Republicans control the Senate and President TrumpDonald John TrumpOmar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: ‘This is my country’ Pelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare Trump mocks Biden appearance, mask use ahead of first debate MORE remains in the White House. But it highlights the laundry list of abuse allegations Democrats have lodged against the president over the last four years — and provides Democrats with political ammunition as Congress prepares to leave Washington for the final sprint to the Nov. 3 elections.

“During this once-in-a-generation moment, the Congress has a sacred obligation for the people to defend the rule of law and restore accountability and basic ethics to the government. And that is exactly what we’re doing [with this package],” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol.

“It is sad that the president’s actions have made this legislation necessary,” she added. “As with other things, he gives us no choice.”

Crafted by some of the Democrats’ top committee heads, the legislative package takes aim at the some of the most controversial episodes of Trump’s tenure.

One proposal would codify the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bars presidents and other federal officials from accepting foreign gifts. Another would expedite the judicial process surrounding congressional subpoenas, which the administration has frequently disregarded leading to lengthy court proceedings.

“Congressional subpoenas are not requests that recipients can easily brush aside,” said Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealRep. Bill Pascrell named chair of House oversight panel Rep. Cedric Richmond set to join House Ways and Means Committee Coons beats back progressive Senate primary challenger in Delaware MORE (D-Mass.), head of the Ways and Means Committee. “They are indispensable as a tool that this body uses to investigate potential wrong-doing … and to prevent future abuses.”

The legislation would also lend new teeth to the Hatch Act — which bars federal officials from promoting political interests during their normal course of duties — by establishing fines of up to $50,000 for violations.

Another provision would strengthen Congress’s powers to dictate federal funding by applying penalties to executive officials who misappropriate taxpayer dollars for pet projects. Democrats have long-accused Trump of abusing that power, including an incident when he tapped Pentagon funding to help build his wall at the Mexican border, and another when he withheld federal

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