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Republicans float support for antitrust reform after Trump Facebook ban upheld

Several high-profile Republican lawmakers on Wednesday suggested they would support antitrust reforms in the wake of Facebook's Independent Oversight Board upholding former President TrumpDonald TrumpIran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' Ivanka Trump, Kushner distance themselves from Trump claims on election: CNN Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on critical race theory | House bill introduced to overhaul military justice system as sexual assault reform builds momentum MORE's ban from the platform.

House Republican Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseOn The Money: Powell says pickup in job gains likely this fall | Schumer, Pelosi meeting with White House on infrastructure Powell says pickup in job gains likely this fall Hillicon Valley: Senate unanimously confirms Chris Inglis as first White House cyber czar | Scrutiny mounts on Microsoft's surveillance technology | Senators unveil bill to crack down on cyber criminals MORE (La.) said in a statement that if “Big Tech believes they have the power to silence a president of the United States, then we need to take a serious look at antitrust laws to limit their monopolistic power.”

“If Facebook is so big it thinks it can silence the leaders you elect, it’s time for conservatives to pursue an antitrust agenda,” Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), chairman of the powerful Republican Study Committee, tweeted.

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And House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanTech antitrust bills create strange bedfellows in House markup White House uses Trump's words praising China to slam McCarthy's Biden criticism Powell says pickup in job gains likely this fall MORE (R-Ohio.) simply said “Break them up.”

 

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While some Republicans — most prominently Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyFlorida hackers change highway sign to read 'Arrest Fauci' Majority of Republicans thinks critical race theory negatively affects society: poll Harris casts tiebreaking vote to confirm OPM nominee MORE (Mo.) or Rep. Ken BuckKenneth (Ken) Robert BuckTech antitrust bills create strange bedfellows in House markup Tech industry pushes for delay in antitrust legislation Hillicon Valley: Cyber agency says SolarWinds hack could have been deterred | Civil rights groups urge lawmakers to crack down on Amazon's 'dangerous' worker surveillance | Manchin-led committee puts forth sprawling energy infrastructure proposal MORE (Colo.) – have backed antitrust investigations into the U.S.'s largest technology companies and pushed to give enforcement teeth, the larger GOP has been hesitant to back reforms.

On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Tech antitrust bills create strange bedfellows in House markup | Rick Scott blocks Senate vote on top cyber nominee until Harris visits border | John McAfee dies Klobuchar questions Amazon, Alphabet over smart-home devices Schumer vows next steps after 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster MORE (D-Minn.) introduced an omnibus antitrust package earlier this year aimed at strengthening competition laws and revamping antitrust enforcement.

And Rep. David CicillineDavid CicillineTech antitrust bills create strange bedfellows in House markup America's drug rebate system is broken Tech industry pushes for delay in antitrust legislation MORE (D-R.I.) is set to introduce several smaller bills this year based on his House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee’s investigation into competition in digital marketplaces.

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Republicans have not introduced stand-alone antitrust bills this year, but Buck did provide an outline of the party’s position in a report responding to the bipartisan Judiciary investigation. 

Scalise's and Jordan’s offices did not respond to inquiries about what kind of antitrust proposals they would support.

Banks told The Hill that he is “broadly supportive” of Buck’s report. 

That document backed Democratic proposals to allocate resources to antitrust regulators and reform the burden of proof for merger cases, but cautioned that more aggressive suggestions like presumptively freezing acquisitions for major companies or enforcing structural separation were non-starters for Republicans. 

“Current antitrust law needs to be amended to better handle competition in digital markets, antitrust agencies should be beefed up and they need to regulate mergers and acquisitions more strictly,” Banks added in a statement.

Republican support will be needed for any of the existing or forthcoming antitrust proposals to make it past the Senate to President BidenJoe BidenSchumer vows to advance two-pronged infrastructure plan next month Biden appoints veteran housing, banking regulator as acting FHFA chief Iran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' MORE’s desk.