Chuck Schumer

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) talks with a reporter on May 28, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images)

Advocates Call On Schumer to Take 'Historic Opportunity' to Pass Antitrust Bills

"Congress has the votes to pass historic bipartisan antitrust legislation to rein in Big Tech," said one group. "It's up to Sen. Schumer to bring these bills to the Senate floor."

Campaigners on Friday warned Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that the Democratic Party is on the cusp of rendering far-reaching antitrust legislation "a historical footnote" if the congressional leader fails to prioritize the passage of several bills that would rein in Big Tech before the new year.

A coalition including the Tech Oversight Project, Accountable Tech, Fight for the Future, Public Citizen, and a number of other groups sent a letter to the New York Democrat intensifying their call to take "this historic opportunity to reinvigorate competition risks."

"We've long been promised a Senate vote, and with mere days left on the calendar, the time to come good is now."

Lawmakers have three weeks left in Washington before the new Congress convenes after the new year, when Republicans will take control of the U.S. House. The GOP has made clear that although several bipartisan antitrust measures have been proposed, it will not make it a priority to send them to President Joe Biden's desk to become law.

The White House said in November that there was "no reason why Congress can't act before the end of the year" on antitrust legislation, with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saying Biden would be "stepping up engagement" in the lame-duck session to ensure Democrats pass the bills before the Republicans take control of the House.

But Schumer began casting doubt on the party's plans for antitrust earlier this year, telling a group of donors in July that the Democrats wouldn't have enough votes for passage and failing to include the issue on a list of priorities for the rest of the session.

Around the same time, the majority leader said publicly that antitrust legislation would be brought to the floor for a vote.

"We've long been promised a Senate vote, and with mere days left on the calendar, the time to come good is now," Tech Oversight Project executive director Sacha Haworth toldThe Hill Friday.

The bills in question include the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (H.R. 3816 and S. 2992), which would prevent powerful platforms from favoring their own products and services and discriminating against businesses and harming competition, and the Open App Markets Act (H.R. 5017 and S. 2710), which would ensure app developers can offer competitive pricing and set privacy and security safeguards for consumers.

The coalition also asked Schumer to call a vote on a package of three bills that already passed in the House with bipartisan support and would help rein in Big Tech companies.

As Schumer has stalled on putting the legislation up for a vote, critics have demanded that the majority leader disclose campaign contributions he's received from Big Tech companies.

Bloombergreported in August that Schumer has received about $30,000 in direct donations from tech lobbyists this year as he's weighed whether to allow the Senate to vote on reining in anti-competitive behavior in the industry.

Last week, protesters disguised as the "Monopoly Man," Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos held an ironic "love rally" for Schumer, holding signs that read, "Big Tech Loves Schumer."

"Congress has the votes to pass historic bipartisan antitrust legislation to rein in Big Tech," said Accountable Tech on Friday. "It's up to Sen. Schumer to bring these bills to the Senate floor."

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