September 22, 2023

Enterprise JM

Do the Business

Small-business group asks Congress to prioritize antitrust bill in lame duck

A coalition of small businesses is urging Congressional leaders to prioritize an antitrust bill targeting tech giants during the lame-duck session.

The letter, sent to leadership in the House and Senate Tuesday and shared exclusively with The Hill, asks lawmakers to make the bipartisan American Innovation and Choice Online Act a “top priority” in the session closing out the year.

The bill would aim to limit tech giants like Amazon, Meta, Apple and Google from preferencing their own service, according to the letter organized by Small Business Rising.

It added that the legislation represents “an unprecedented opportunity to start leveling the playing field for our small, independent businesses, and the window to do so is rapidly closing.”

“While Big Tech lobbyists flood lawmakers’ offices with falsehoods and claim to have the support of the small business community, the truth is our members see little future for American small business if the tech giants continue to corner the digital markets and use their power to favor their own products and block those of smaller rivals,” the group wrote. 

“Small businesses are the backbone of America’s economic dynamism and the vitality of our local communities. Now is the moment for policymakers to advance legislation that will safeguard the right for independent businesses to compete and serve the needs of their communities,” it added.

The letter is signed by roughly two dozen independent business organizations representing sectors spanning from toy retailers to booksellers. 

Versions of the bill advanced out of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees with bipartisan support, but have not yet been called for floor votes. 

Supporters — including Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Rep. Ken Buck (D-Colo.) — have been urging congressional leaders to call the bills to a vote.

A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said over the summer the bill would be called for a vote, but did not detail a specific timeline. 

The lame-duck session could be the best shot at advancing the bill, especially if Republicans take control of the House, since leading House GOP members have pushed back against the legislation. As of Monday afternoon, the battle for House control was still undecided with more than a dozen close races uncalled.