Amazon and Meta, Facebook’s parent company, spent record sums on federal lobbying in 2021 as they fought legislation to limit their expansive market power.
Amazon and its subsidiaries spent roughly $20.3 million to lobby Congress and the federal government, while Meta shelled out $20.1 million, according to filings submitted to Congress on Thursday. Both tech giants increased their lobbying spending by around 7 percent from their previous benchmarks set in 2020.
The powerful firms aggressively lobbied lawmakers to abandon bipartisan bills in the House and Senate that target Silicon Valley’s controversial business practices.
The industry is currently setting its sights on the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which would block dominant companies such as Amazon, Google, Apple and Meta from giving preference to their own products or discriminating against rivals on their platforms. The bill advanced through the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, but senators have expressed support for making industry-friendly changes to the final version.
Amazon and Meta are the top two lobbying spenders among individual companies, according to money-in-politics research group OpenSecrets. Together they contracted with dozens of K Street firms to deploy lobbyists with close ties to congressional leaders and Biden administration officials.
They routinely outspend the other tech giants, including Google, which spent $9.6 million on lobbying in 2021. That’s not an annual record for Google, but it does represent a 27 percent increase over 2020.
Apple’s lobbying spending actually decreased slightly last year. The iPhone maker spent $6.5 million to influence policymakers in 2021, down from roughly $6.7 million in 2020.
Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai personally met with senators and urged them to oppose the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, according to a recent report from Punchbowl News.
The tech giants and their trade associations blitzed Capitol Hill with warnings that the bill would hurt American consumers and disadvantage U.S. companies’ ability to compete with their Chinese counterparts. Several senators reiterated those concerns this week.
Microsoft spent $10.2 million on lobbying in 2021, right around the same figure it shelled out in 2019. The firm has quietly exerted its influence in key legislative battles. Antitrust bills advanced by House lawmakers last year targeted Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple but didn’t appear to impact Microsoft.