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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

House Democrats and Republicans are finding common ground on a set of principles for countering tech monopolies that they believe could drive a bipartisan push in the new Congress to update antitrust law.

The big picture: Representatives from both parties are finding it easier to agree on antitrust policy ideas than on proposals about content moderation and liability, where the two parties couldn't be further apart despite agreeing on the need for change.

Democrats and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel, which issued a sweeping report this year proposing steps to rein in big tech firms, have zeroed in on at least four ideas, according to a Hill source:

  1. More funding for key antitrust enforcers, chiefly the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department, so they can take on wealthy, heavily lawyered tech companies.
  2. Changing the burden of proof for proposed mergers so that companies whose market share passes a certain threshold are assumed to be monopolies and must prove their deal does not harm competition.
  3. Data portability requirements for platforms, so that consumers can move their information from one service to another.
  4. Prohibitions on platform bias and "self-preferencing," which is when information services display their own listings above those of competitors.

Background: The committee's 450-page October report outlined dozens of legislative fixes and enforcement ideas to shore up current antitrust law.

The committee majority report's recommendation of "structural separations" prohibiting platform owners from also participating in the markets they run is going to be a harder sell for Republicans.

  • There's little agreement on that issue, Rep. David Cicilline, the Democrat who heads up the antitrust subpanel, told Axios.
  • And any bill on "self-preferencing" would be a lengthy project, he said, requiring technical drafting and additional bipartisan support.

The intrigue: President-elect Biden's win adds to the chances antitrust legislation will be successful next year, Cicilline said: "He's dedicated his entire life to checking big corporate power and recognizes the importance of competition.... There is real alignment between the subcommittee and the administration."

Between the lines: Rep. Ken Buck — a Colorado Republican on the committee who released his own antitrust report and has worked across the aisle on this issue — is likely to run for ranking member of the antitrust subcommittee, one Hill source said, elevating his role going forward.

What's next: Key lawmakers and sources familiar with the committee's work say staffers aim to produce bills that can be introduced early next year.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Top Republican proposes Big Tech action plan

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers outlined a plan for fellow Republicans to hammer Big Tech companies in a memo obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The "Big Tech Accountability Platform” serves as both a rallying cry for Republicans in the minority and an outline for some policy changes that could win bipartisan support.

1 hour ago - Health

Treasury begins dispersing $350 billion in COVID relief funding to states and localities

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. Treasury on Monday began giving state and local governments access to $350 billion in emergency funding from the American Rescue Plan, the department announced Monday.

Why it matters: Though the money is aimed at helping state, local, territorial and tribal governments recover from the pandemic's economic fallout, the administration will generally give them wide latitude on how they can use the funds.

Game developers break silence around salaries

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Developers are sharing their salaries on Twitter under the hashtag #GameDevPaidMe to encourage pay transparency in their industry.

The big picture: The hashtag started circulating last year, but has returned periodically as developers fight for better working conditions. Salary sharing is a way to equalize the field. By removing the secrecy, as well as the stigma, around discussing pay, workers have more power to advocate for themselves when negotiating salaries and raises.

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