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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

A bipartisan pair of senators, in a letter Tuesday, are urging the Justice Department to investigate Google's search operations as well as its advertising business.

The big picture: The letter from Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) comes as the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee holds a Tuesday hearing on ways that digital platforms favor themselves over their competitors.

Details: Hawley and Blumenthal, both members of the Judiciary Committee and former state attorneys general, cite recent reports indicating the Justice Department is focusing its antitrust investigation into Google on the company's advertising business.

  • But the senators tell Attorney General Willam Barr that Google's search operations merit scrutiny as well. "Narrowing the investigation’s focus such that Google’s anticompetitive practices to dominate the online search market is not captured does a grave disservice to consumers," they wrote.

What's next: Luther Lowe, Yelp's senior vice president of public policy, will testify at the hearing that Google has biased its search results to favor its own products to the detriment of Yelp and consumers.

  • In written testimony, Lowe also notes "concerning reports" that the DOJ is focusing narrowly on Google's ad business. "You can't look at Standard Oil without looking at oil; you cannot investigate Google without looking at search," Lowe wrote.
  • In response to Yelp's testimony, a Google spokesperson said in a statement, "We build Google Search for our users. Our users tell us they want quick access to information, and we're constantly innovating Search to help people easily find what they’re looking for."

Go deeper

3 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Patrick Gaspard to leave George Soros' Open Society Foundations

Patrick Gaspard speaks onstage at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Photo: Ernesto Distefano/Getty Images

Patrick Gaspard, who served as ambassador to South Africa under President Barack Obama, is stepping down as president of George Soros' Open Society Foundations, fueling speculation that he'll join the Biden administration, potentially as Labor secretary.

What to know: Before his stint as ambassador, Gaspard was Obama's political director in the White House, drawing upon his experience in the labor movement to advance Obama's legislative agenda on health care and financial services reform.

House passes bill to decriminalize marijuana

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime marijuana legalization advocate and co-sponsor of the bill. Photo: Pete Marovich For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House on Friday voted 228-164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

Why it matters: The Washington Post describes the bill as a "landmark retreat in the nation’s decades-long war on drugs," which has disproportionately affected people of color.

Updated 22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot" — Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office.
  2. Health: Coronavirus death rates rising across the country — Study: Increased COVID-19 testing can reduce transmission — Hospitalizations top 100,000 for the first time.
  3. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows — America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
  4. Vaccine: What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do — Obama, Bush and Clinton willing to take vaccine in public —WSJ: Pfizer expects to ship half as many COVID vaccines as planned in 2020.

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