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Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) is the chair of the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A behind-the-scenes battle to shape Capitol Hill scrutiny of Big Tech's power will burst into public view this week in the most significant way yet.

Driving the news: Representatives of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple will face questions Tuesday from members of the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee as part of its investigation into their market power.

What we're hearing: The companies — all of which have briefed committee staff in the last month — are bringing antitrust heavy hitters to the hearing.

  • Google witness Adam Cohen has been a prominent part of its attempt to defang antitrust concerns in Europe.
  • Amazon's Nate Sutton is a veteran of the Justice Department's price-fixing case against Apple for allegedly conspiring with publishers to raise the price of ebooks.
  • What they're saying: An Apple spokesperson pointed Axios to its public website on the competition issue, while a Google spokesperson referred us to CEO Sundar Pichai's previous comments. Amazon and Facebook declined to comment.

Behind the scenes: Competitors and critics hoping to turn the heat up on the tech giants have been making the rounds in Washington.

  • Yelp chief executive and Google antagonist Jeremy Stoppelman took meetings on Capitol Hill last week.
  • Spotify, which is pursuing an antitrust case against Apple in Europe, has also been working Congress in advance of the hearing, according to two people familiar with its efforts.

The big picture: Numerous congressional committees and members are scrutinizing the major tech players, after several years of mounting criticism of the companies on different fronts.

  • Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) announced last week she'd be leading a tech task force for the Senate Judiciary Committee. She also met for more than half an hour last week with Chris Hughes, the Facebook co-founder who has called to break up the social giant.

What to watch: Whether the Justice Department or Federal Trade Commission pursue formal cases against any of the four companies testifying on Tuesday.

  • Yes, but: Even if they come to fruition, these cases can take years to develop.

Go deeper

More corporations are requiring workers to get vaccinated

Graphic: Axios Visuals

Life for the unvaccinated could get more difficult as bosses increasingly move to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory.

The big picture: The federal Government in May said that it is legal for companies to require employees to get vaccinated for coronavirus.

White House: Over 500,000 new shots recorded Friday, highest since July 1

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The United States recorded more than half a million new COVID-19 vaccine shots on Friday, the highest number since July 1, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Why it matters: The Delta variant is continuing to spread across the United States and it now comprises over 80% of the coronavirus cases in the country, Jean-Pierre said. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that "vaccination is the most important strategy to prevent severe illness and death."

Biden to announce sanctions, other efforts to address crisis in Cuba amid protests

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden will announce sanctions against one entity and two Cuban individuals this afternoon and provide details on his administration's efforts to improve internet connectivity in Cuba, a senior administration official said Friday.

Why it matters: After initially hoping to place the issue on the back burner, the White House has recently ramped up its focus on Cuba amid protests on the island and in the United States, congressional backlash and political pressure from the South Florida Cuban community.

  • The president is also expected to make announcements on remittances and plans for U.S. embassy augmentation, the official said.
  • The official noted that the administration is in talks with private sector providers about the possibility of providing wireless LTE communications to the Cuban people.
  • "Given the protest of July 11, it is important for U.S. diplomats to engage directly with the Cuban people and if we can do that in a way that ensures the safety of U.S. personnel, that is something that we will undertake," he said, noting that the president would announce more details later this afternoon.

The details: The president will meet today with Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a Cuban-American, and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), among other political and community leaders and artists.

  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), an outspoken voice on Cuban issues, is not expected to attend the meeting.
  • The meeting follows a series of engagements by Cedric Richmond and the Office of Public Engagement with the Cuban-American community, the official said.

What they're saying: "We're gonna do everything we can to keep Cuba on the front burner, so we can keep the conversation on the rights of the Cuban people and their rights to manifest peacefully," the official said on the call with reporters.

Be smart: Cuba is a tricky political issue for Democrats, who are split on the matter. The president was defeated by Donald Trump in South Florida during the 2020 election, and Democrats fear similar results, particularly in the upcoming midterms, if they mishandle the situation.

Go deeper: The newly announced sanctions today will follow already imposed sanctions against Cuban officials and entities allegedly responsible for human rights abuses during the government's crackdown on island-wide protests earlier this month.