Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

The backlash against the power players of Silicon Valley is testing pro-business tendencies of Republicans, including the influential chairs of the commerce committees in the House and Senate, and giving conservative activists a new cause.

Why it matters: It's rare for powerful Republicans to pressure corporations that haven't run afoul of the law — but tech is proving an exception to that rule, highlighting the ways in which political attitudes toward the industry have changed in the last year.

Republicans are following concerns from the conservative base that doesn't trust the companies or feels left behind by them. Here are the 2 factions in the Republican assault:

  • Hardline conservative activists who view tech companies as opposed to their views and policy positions. That ranges from Phil Kerpen, who distributed an early plan last year to regulate Facebook and Google, to the conservative journalist Peter Schweizer, who will debut a film critical of Big Tech later this year.
  • Establishment Republican lawmakers who usually try to avoid regulation but are frustrated by Silicon Valley's misbehavior. They've also watched their longtime allies in the software and telecom industries seize on the tech backlash in the last year. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune told reporters this week that while he's "not a fan of regulation" he expects more "responsiveness" and "transparency" from tech companies. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Rep. Greg Walden said at a February Axios event that if “responsibility doesn’t flow, then regulation will."

But, but but... The zeal to go after the tech companies among activists is being countered by free-market policy experts whose views long defined Republican orthodoxy on tech issues. Jesse Blumenthal, who manages the Charles Koch Institute's work on tech, said that tech and antitrust experts on the right have not embraced the critical view of tech giants — in contrast to their counterparts on the left.

The tension inside the party played out in a recent meeting organized by Americans for Tax Reform when a representative of the libertarian-leaning Lincoln Network presented the organization’s survey showing that conservatives feel uncomfortable in Silicon Valley.

  • Multiple attendees expressed worries that the survey could be used to justify regulation, according to sources in the room.
  • A Facebook staffer who specializes in conservative outreach also pushed back on the survey's findings.
  • Lincoln Network’s Co-Founder and President Aaron Ginn told Axios the survey was meant simply to portray what life is like for conservatives in Silicon Valley, not encourage regulation.
  • (The Americans for Tax Reform employee who organized the meeting, Katie McAuliffe, declined to comment because the gathering was off the record.)

The bottom line: After some reliable Democratic defenders started leveling criticism at Big Tech, it can't count on a defense from typically pro-business Republicans.

Go deeper

Huge wildfire reaches edge of Sequoia National Park

A plume of smoke and flames rise into the air as the fire burns towards Moro Rock during the KNP Complex fire in the Sequoia National Park near Three Rivers, California, on Saturday. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Firefighters in Sequoia National Park were working into the night after two wildfires merged to reach the Giant Forest Saturday.

Why it matters: This forest contains over 2,000 giant sequoias, including the General Sherman Tree — considered the world's largest by volume. Park officials wrapped the trees in foil last week as the Paradise and Colony Fires, now known as the KNP Complex Fire, neared. And officials said early Sunday protection efforts appeared to be working.

3 hours ago - World

U.S. drone strike victims' families in Afghanistan seek compensation

A relative of Ezmarai Ahmadi, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike, looks at the wreckage of a vehicle that was damaged in the strike in the Kwaja Burga neighbourhood of Kabul on Saturday. Photo: Hoshang Hashimi AFP via Getty Images

Relatives of 10 Afghans killed by a U.S. drone strike in Kabul last month said Saturday they want to see punishment and compensation over the deaths.

Driving the news: The relatives said it's "good news" that the U.S. had "officially admitted" that "they had attacked innocents" in the Aug. 29 strike that killed Zamarai Ahmadi, an aid worker with a U.S.-based group, and nine family members, but they still need "justice," per AFP.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
7 hours ago - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 is back on Earth after flight to space

A side-by-side of the Inspiration4 crew and a shot of their capsule on the way back to Earth. Photo: SpaceX

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew is back on Earth after their three-day mission in orbit.

The big picture: The launch and landing of this fully amateur, private space crew marks a changing of the guard from spaceflight being a largely government-led venture to being under the purview of private companies.