By the standards of today’s loaded Washington, sens. Amy Klobuchar և Mike Lee should not be friends.
He is a pro-election, moderate Democrat who ran for president last year, supporting a larger role in government. He is a Mormon, a small, conservative Republican whose father served in the Ronald Reagan administration. They operate in an atmosphere of deep mistrust between the parties, which is exacerbated by the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.
Despite their differences, they have signed a close alliance based on mutual concerns. The fact that mega-corporations, especially giant technology companies, are too powerful. This could have a detrimental effect on Apple, Alphabet, Facebook և Amazon, as Klobuchar և Lee, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee անդամ High-Minority Member, are focused on centuries-old antitrust statutes on review.
Klobuchar, 60, and Lee, 49, have been chairing the subcommittee for eight years, and their relationship shows the hearings they plan together, the meetings with lobbyists, the negotiations on how to rebuild antitrust policy.
When Apple tried to evade the Senate Hearing App Store last month, the iPhone maker found out how determined the senators, both former prosecutors, were. Speaking on their cell phones as Klobuchar flew home to Minnesota while Lee was returning to Utah, they wrote a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook asking him to send a witness to explain the business model, which “poses serious competition issues.”
It worked. The CEO of Apple Compliance actually appeared before the subcommittee 12 days later. He asked tough questions from the two senators, who laughed at each other’s jokes, talked to each other’s staff, and reinforced each other’s views.
The regulation of large companies has traditionally become the prerogative of Democrats like Klobuchar, whose new book, Antitrust. The monopoly power from the gilded century to the digital age, ”includes the rise and fall of trust over the past two centuries. But Republicans like Lee, whom he thanks in the book’s letters of thanks, are also increasingly critical of the dominant companies. Although the GOP’s anger is mostly focused on technology giants, the changes Klobuchar և Lee is discussing could have repercussions for many other industries, including pharmaceuticals, agriculture and airlines.
“We find common ground on the policies, deals and unforeseen events we want to have,” Klobuchar said. “We feel good about each other.”
When sens. “Lee Klobuchar is synchronized, ‘they’s a terrible two-party duo,'” said Lee Lonsbury, Lee ‘s spokesman.
Their collaboration comes at a time when antitrust experts and other lawmakers և President Biden’s administration are deeply concerned about the centralization of the economy as a whole.
“This is something of a generation,” said Bill Baer, a former Justice Department antitrust director during President Barack Obama’s second term. “I do not think we have ever seen in the political body this collective concern about the increase of concentration in the private sector, the rise of power.”
Klobuchar և Lee’s working relationship is reflected in the House of Representatives, where Democrat David Cicilin heads the House Antitrust Subcommittee and works closely with the committee’s lead Republican, Ken Buck.
They are also unlikely to be allies. Sicily, 59, was the first openly gay mayor in Providence, Rhode Island, whose lawyer’s father defended the mob. As one of the House’s most progressive Democrats, he advocated gun control և LGBTQ rights և served as one of the prosecutors during the second trial of President Donald Trump’s impeachment.
62-year-old Baku is a close ally of Trump, a social conservative with weapons, who wrote a book entitled “Dan Swamp. “How much worse is corruption in Washington than you think?”, Using the slogan taken from the former president’s first campaign. After serving as attorney general in the Department of Justice, he ran for Congress, promising to cut public spending.
Through spokespersons, Sicily and Buck declined to comment.
Last year, an investigation led to a 450-page report by the Democratic staff of the commission, which called for a radical overhaul of antitrust laws and their implementation. In response, Buck warned of over-regulation, but agreed with recommendations to better fund enforcement agencies, urging companies to exercise more control over their data and facilitate mergers for regulators.
Sicily soon intends to introduce narrow anti-monopoly technology bills – a strategy designed to support Baku and other Republicans in some areas, even if there are other areas of dissent. Passing legislation in the House of Representatives requires only a simple majority, which would be even easier if Buck were to be able to bring some of his Republican colleagues with him.
This means that Klobuchar և Lee must be watched. He will need the support of every Democratic senator, as well as at least 10 Republicans, if he wants to pass antitrust legislation in the Senate Philippaster Rules և Biden’s office.
The Minnesota senator has presented a broad proposal for antitrust legislation, which he said he would like to break into smaller pieces that are more likely to receive bipartisan support. Lee plans to propose his own bill, parts of which coincide with Klobuchar, says the Republican aide.
Klobuchar’s obsession with market competition began in 2008 when a voter warned him of a 20-fold increase in the price of rescue drugs for premature infants with cardiovascular disease, according to his book. He recounts his frustration with years of conservative court precedents, which make it almost impossible for the Department of Justice’s Federal Trade Commission to win monopoly cases. “I am carrying out a crusade to rectify this,” Klobuchar wrote.
He described the trust as a return to the nation’s founding principles, calling the Declaration of Independence an “act of economic rebellion against monopoly power.”
The use of antitrust laws to protect economic freedom and capitalism is appealing to Lee, whose commitment to the Constitution և to small government began as a child. He accompanied his father, Rex Lee, President Reagan’s attorney general, to litigation in the Supreme Court.
But it is unclear how much change the GOP senator wants. He said he adheres to the legal metering stick, known as the consumer welfare standard, to determine if companies are allowed to merge. This generally means deciding whether the combination is likely to have higher prices. Many Democrats, like Klobuchar, would expand the regulators that regulators should take into account, but also shift the burden of proving some mergers from government to companies, which would prove that the combination they proposed was not anti-competitive.
However, Lee agreed that consumer welfare is more than just prices. Speaking at last month’s confirmation hearing for Colombian law professor Lina Khan, who criticized big tech companies Biden nominated as an FTC commissioner, Lee said consumers also have an impact on reduced product quality choices. He even advocated for more aggressive antitrust enforcement.
“It seems to me that our laws can meet that need only if the bailiffs bring the relevant facts, the relevant evidence, the relevant cases to the table,” Lee said.
One of the GOP senators, Missouri’s Lay’s Holly, called for more radical changes to antitrust legislation, accompanied by Trump’s angry populism. But Hawley, who was rioted in riots on January 6 as one of the first GOP senators to challenge last year’s presidential election, did not involve co-sponsors.
Involving lawmakers on both sides for broader antitrust changes may depend on how much Klobuchar can use his friendship with Lee.
“I found support where I could find it,” Klobuchar said at a virtual book event on May 5. “The wisdom will be to tell how serious they are about taking monopolies. If they want to find a language on those bills, there are signals that some of them will find it.”