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Organizations push congressional leaders to prioritize tech antitrust report

Organizations push congressional leaders to prioritize tech antitrust report
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A wide-ranging group of national organizations is urging congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to embrace and prioritize recommendations to overhaul big tech companies as laid out in a House Judiciary Committee report last month. 

Fifty groups signed onto a letter sent to top House and Senate leaders on Tuesday calling for them to “quickly act to enshrine the recommendations included in the report into law,” according to a copy shared with The Hill. 

“This report should serve as a wake-up call to other industries that Congress can and will hold them, and agencies responsible for overseeing them, accountable. Congress must act on its duty to protect small business, workers, our democracy, and our economy from a few giant companies rigging the rules for themselves,” the groups wrote. 

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“We encourage you to place the recommendations in this report on your respective legislative agendas early in the next session. Your support of these needed changes will protect consumers, workers, and our democracy from Big Tech monopolies, which are not above the law and must no longer be permitted to act as if they are,” they added. 

The letter was sent to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Biden unveils virus plan and urges patience | Fauci says it's 'liberating' working under Biden | House to move quickly on COVID-19 relief Overnight Defense: House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee | Biden to seek five-year extension of key arms control pact with Russia | Two more US service members killed by COVID-19 On The Money: Pelosi says House will move immediately on COVID-19 relief | Biden faces backlash over debt | 900,000 more Americans file for unemployment benefits MORE (D-Calif.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyMcCarthy supports Cheney remaining in leadership amid calls for her to step down The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden hits the ground running on COVID Biden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear MORE (R-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial McConnell proposes postponing impeachment trial until February For Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). 

It comes roughly a month after the House Judiciary panel on antitrust released a report on competition in digital marketplaces that included a series of recommendations targeting tech companies. 

The investigation that launched last June was a bipartisan effort, but Republican committee members pushed back on the majority’s report. Instead, shortly after it was released, Rep. Ken BuckKenneth (Ken) Robert BuckProgressive groups warn against appointing tech insiders to key antitrust roles House Republican condemns anti-Trump celebrities during impeachment hearing Pompeo, Cruz and other Trump allies condemn Twitter's ban on president MORE (R-Colo.) released his own version backed by other Republicans.

Buck's “third way” report largely agrees with the majority staff’s views on the effects of Big Tech’s market dominance, but it pushes for comparatively smaller reforms. 

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Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit advocacy group that signed onto the letter, said that while there are differences between the two reports, the similarities in their view on Big Tech’s market dominance suggests there’s a chance for the reform to be a “breakthrough issue” amid the deeply divided partisan politics. 

Mitchell underscored the need for lawmakers to prioritize the reform given the increased economic issues facing small businesses and workers due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“We’re seeing working people and small businesses absolutely decimated and if we want to actually have real recovery that’s robust, recovery that's equitable, then we need to tackle … monopoly power more broadly,” Mitchell said. 

The letter is signed by a wide range of business groups, as well as economic justice and worker rights organizations, Mitchell noted. Groups that signed the letter include the Athena Coalition, Center for Popular Democracy, Demand Progress and the Warehouse Worker Resource Center.

“That’s an interesting coalition,” Mitchell said. “And I think it really speaks to the fact that monopoly power is something that is robbing a lot of Americans of their ability to earn a living — whether they work for a living or run a business.”

— Updated at 8:55 a.m.