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The Federal Trade Commission in America's consumer protection agency. Photo: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Four nominees to serve on the Federal Trade Commission moved carefully around a question about their views on Big Tech’s growing power on Wednesday, pledging generally to enforce antitrust laws but not firing any broadsides against companies like Facebook and Google.

Why it matters: This question faces antitrust regulators as dominant tech platforms only get bigger, and calls to rein them in become more prominent. That could include calls for the agency to take another look at Google's search dominance.

What they're saying:

  • FTC chair nominee Joseph Simons: “Sometimes big is good, sometimes big is bad, and sometimes it’s both at the same time. Oftentimes companies get big because they are successful with the consumer, they offer a good service at low price, and that’s a good thing and we don’t want to interfere with that. On the other hand, companies that are already big and influential can sometimes use inappropriate means, anticompetitive means, to get big or to stay big — and if that’s the case, then we should be vigorously enforcing the antitrust laws and attacking that conduct and prohibiting it.”
  • Commissioner nominee Christine Wilson: “I know there have been questions about whether the antitrust laws as currently crafted are sufficient to address these issues and I would like to affirm my view today that in fact the antitrust laws as written today are broad and flexible and are capable of adapting to evolving technology. … I understand that there have been investigations into companies in the past, there has been a lapse of time an technology has evolved, and so it may make sense to take another look at concerns that have been raised.”
  • Commissioner nominee Noah Phillips: “Like many Americans, I experience daily the incredible impact that many of these firms have on my life. … I think the FTC has a very big role to play here in applying the law fairly, in applying it carefully, and very importantly in continuing to keep abreast of changing trends in the markets.”
  • Commissioner nominee Rohit Chopra: "I agree with Mr. Simons that there’s a real role to continue to look back at past actions to determine whether models and empirical analysis have been accurate, how they can be evolved, but I think it’s an area that we need to be humble and continue to learn to effectively understand dynamics in this marketplace."

Go deeper

Reports: CIA finds "Havana Syndrome" unlikely caused by foreign campaign

CIA Director William Burns testifies during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill last April. Photo: Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images

A preliminary CIA report rules out a foreign global campaign as the cause of American and Canadian diplomats affected by a mysterious illness known as "Havana syndrome," per multiple reports.

Why it matters: Some lawmakers had suggested the sometimes debilitating illness was due to directed energy attacks. But CIA officials told the New York Times that most of the 1,000 cases reported to the government could be "explained by environmental causes, undiagnosed medical conditions or stress." This finding has angered some victims, per the NYT.

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 2 far-right "America First" activists

The House panel investigating the Capitol riot, from left; Reps. Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Jamie Raskin on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Capitol riot issued subpoenas Wednesday for far-right leaders Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey, who allegedly encouraged followers to go to D.C. and challenge the 2020 election results.

Why it matters: The action underscores the panel's increasing focus on rallies held ahead of the Capitol attack and how extremists were drawn to former President Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, per the New York Times.

Democrats fail to change Senate rules to pass voting rights bill

Senate Majority Leader during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democrats failed Wednesday night to change Senate filibuster rules to pass the voting rights bill, with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) voting with Republicans.

The big picture: The failed effort came after Senate Republicans blocked the voting rights measure from coming to a final vote earlier Wednesday.