House Preps Vote On Bills Targeting China, Big Tech ‘Goliaths’

(Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Font Size:
  • The House of Representatives is planning to vote this week on an antitrust package designed to limit Big Tech’s ability to avoid antitrust lawsuits and China’s ability to invest in U.S. technology.
  • In addition, the package would make it more expensive for larger companies to apply for mergers and give increased funding to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) for the purposes of antitrust enforcement.
  • Former senior Senate staffers who spoke to the Daily Caller News Foundation expected the package to pass, but noted there was some resistance by Republicans to increased funding for the FTC and DOJ.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on a trio of antitrust bills that proponents claim will bring accountability to Big Tech and limit Chinese influence in the U.S. tech industry, the House Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee announced Monday.

Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado announced the plan to vote Monday, describing the package as a “bipartisan” effort to promote small business and reduce the impact of ‘goliath’ Big Tech firms, in a press release shared with the Daily Caller News Foundation. The package is comprised of three bills — the State Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act, the Foreign Merger Subsidy Disclosure Act and the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act — which would eliminate the ability for tech companies to transfer antitrust cases to more favorable jurisdictions, require companies to disclose foreign subsidies during the merger approval process and update the costs to apply for a merger, increasing costs the larger the proposed merger, respectively. (RELATED: Congress May Have Missed Its Chance To Break Up Big Tech)

“What we’re concerned about is where China, the Chinese Communist Party in particular, sets up some sort of dummy corporation and it looks like a German company, or it looks like a US company, and in fact, it is wholly owned and controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, and they’re trying to merge with a small tech company,” Buck said in an interview with the DCNF, referencing the Foreign Merger Subsidy Disclosure Act. “That’s that’s the real issue.”

The State Antitrust Enforcement Venue Act would prevent antitrust suits brought by state attorneys general to be transferred to a more favorable court or consolidated into a slower-moving private lawsuit. The bill is supported by 48 state attorneys general, 24 of which were Republican, and is part of what the Buck press release characterizes as an effort to eliminate so-called “home-field advantage” in court cases for Big Tech in districts such as the Northern District of California.

The Foreign Merger Subsidy Disclosure Act requires companies to disclose any investments by foreign governments when they begin the merger process. China is a particular target of the bill, with Buck’s office alleging that 3% of Chinese GDP is used for “indirect corporate subsidies,” much of which targets U.S. technology.

“Obviously, Republicans are trying to hawk, Democrats are always worried about Russia, both sides kinda get what they want out of that,” said Jon Schweppe, Policy Director at the American Principles Project, told the DCNF.

The Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act would increase funding to both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), who share responsibility for antitrust enforcement. The new funding would be derived from the increased cost of merger filings for large corporations, enabling the the DOJ and FTC to hire and retain more staff to more thoroughly analyze larger and more complex mergers.

At the moment, both the FTC and DOJ are operating with “bare bones” levels of antitrust enforcement, Rachel Bovard, Senior Director of Policy at the Conservative Partnership Institute, told the DCNF. The significant amount of consolidation in Big Tech in recent years can be attributed in part to this lack of enforcement, according to Bovard.

Former senior Senate staffers, speaking with the DCNF, mentioned that they expect the package to be largely supported, describing both the venue and foreign disclosure portions of the package as non-controversial. However, they noted that the filing fee portion of the package was more contentious, and has prompted some Republicans to jump ship from the efforts.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, has been particularly full-throated in his opposition, tweeting Tuesday that the money in the bill would be used to target conservatives. A Jordan spokesperson described the package as a “vehicle to set aside hundreds of millions of dollars for the Biden FTC and DOJ, who have been on a crusade for woke capitalism,” and claimed that neither the DOJ or FTC antitrust divisions had appeared for oversight hearings yet, in a statement to the DCNF.

The package does not change the fact that the FTC needs Congressional appropriation to utilize funds, according to both a statement from the Buck office and former senior Senate staffers.

Buck characterized the discussion between supporters and detractors as a “healthy debate,” and downplayed the significance of concerns about FTC funding. Buck stressed that the FTC can only use the money generated from filing fees when Congress explicitly appropriates the funding.

Tougher antitrust enforcement has been a goal of the Biden administration, following a July 2021 executive order where President Joe Biden criticized the lack of competition in a variety of American industries. A bipartisan bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday limiting antitrust enforcement to allow smaller news outlets to form a collective bargaining cartel, in an effort to limit the influence of Big Tech in news.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.