Technology

DCCC invites Democrats to event with Amazon lobbyists ahead of antitrust vote

The Amazon logo in Santa Monica, Calif., Sept. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Democrats’ House campaign arm invited members to an event with two Amazon lobbyists Thursday, ahead of a vote on a package of bills that aim to give antitrust enforcers greater agency to rein in the power of massive tech firms, including Amazon. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s (DCCC) event Thursday at noon featured two Amazon lobbyists, according to a copy of the attendees’ list obtained by The Hill. 

Dozens, if not all members, of the House Democratic caucus were invited to the event, according to a former Democratic aide on Capitol Hill. 

“The DCCC is actively raising from Amazon and encouraging the caucus to raise from Amazon at the exact moment when there are House floor votes on antitrust legislation incredibly important to Amazon,” the aide said. 

The Hill reached out to the DCCC for comment. 

The event wasn’t solely focused on Amazon, or tech companies. The roughly 30 lobbyists on the list represented a range of organizations, including General Electric, NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood. 

At the same time as the DCCC event with lobbyists at District Winery, the House was debating a package of antitrust bills that aim to give enforcement agencies greater power to take antitrust action against dominant tech firms. 

The House ultimately voted 242-184 to pass the bills after a heated floor debate on both sides. 

Some Republicans, including House Judiciary ranking member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) slammed the package as an attempt to give the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission more money for a Democratic agenda. 

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) argued a provision allowing state attorneys general to choose their venue when enforcing antitrust laws would give states the power to bring cases against content moderation, although content moderation is not the aim of the bills.

However, there was also bipartisan support on the House floor for the legislation, as there was during a committee markup last year. The package is additionally backed by bipartisan sponsors, and a trio of Senate Republicans urged the House to pass the bills. 

The bills together would update merger fee filings, allow state attorneys general to select their venue when enforcing antitrust laws and use the merger notification process to require parties to disclose subsidies they have received from countries that pose a risk to the U.S. 

The package of proposals passed Thursday are “low hanging fruit,” and pose a chance for those against the bills to try and squash all momentum for antitrust legislation targeting tech companies, a Republican lobbyist told The Hill. 

“They see this a greater proxy for the larger bills,” the GOP lobbyist said, referring to the American Choice and Innovation Online Act and the Platform Competition and Opportunity Act, which have both advanced out of the House and Senate Judiciary committees. 

“If they’re able to kill this bill, it kind of destroys all momentum for anything larger between now and the lame duck,” they added. 

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act and Platform Competition and Opportunity Act have yet to receive votes in the House or Senate. 

The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act largely targets Apple and Google, which operate dominant app markets. The proposal would add new regulations in that field. 

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act would limit tech companies from preferencing their own products. For example, it could limit Amazon from putting its own products near the top of the search on its e-commerce site. 

Tech industry groups that represent dominant firms have pushed back strongly on the proposals. Amazon has also issued statements in opposition of the proposal.

Tags Amazon antitrust legislation DCCC Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Zoe Lofgren

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