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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Corporate giants would be barred from acquisitions and century-old antitrust laws would get sharper teeth under a new proposal by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) shared exclusively with Axios.

The big picture: Hawley is among the Senate's most conservative members, but his attack on corporate power wouldn't sound out of place on Elizabeth Warren's or Bernie Sanders' agenda.

  • That's how deeply Republicans' anger at what they see as out-of-control "censorship" by Big Tech and overreaching activism by "woke corporations" has alienated some of the party from its traditional big-business base.

Details: Hawley's "Trust-Busting for the Twenty-First Century Act" would ...

  • Ban mergers and acquisitions by firms with a market cap over $100 billion
  • Lower the threshold for prosecution under existing federal antitrust laws, replacing the prevalent "consumer harm" standard with one that emphasizes "the protection of competition"
  • Require companies that lose federal antitrust lawsuits to "forfeit all their profits resulting from monopolistic conduct"
  • Give the Federal Trade Commission new power to designate and regulate "dominant digital firms" in different online markets

What they're saying: "This country and this government shouldn't be run by a few mega-corporations," Hawley told Axios. The Republican Party "has got to become the party of trust-busting once again. You know, that's a part of our history."

  • Hawley said "globalization" and "both parties getting comfortable with corporate consolidation" were responsible for a market failure that justifies strong intervention.
  • "We tried it the way that the big corporatists wanted," he said, "and it hasn't been a success for the American consumer, for the American producer, or for the American economy."

Of note: Hawley's plan is more than a salvo against Silicon Valley. Its rules on mergers, for instance, would cover dozens of U.S. giants in virtually every economic sector, from banking and health to retail and media.

Between the lines: Aren't people going to be confused by this tough-on-business proposal from a member of the party of business? Hawley offers two responses:

  • "Trust-busting" was a Republican concept originally, under Progressive-Era GOP president Teddy Roosevelt.
  • Strong antitrust laws are ultimately about the sanctity of competition, and Republicans ought to embrace that.

What to watch: Hawley's ideas might win some support from other populist Republicans, but the broader party would need a sea-change in thinking to embrace it. Democrats, meanwhile, are likely to prefer their own bills.

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Go deeper

Scoop: 50,000 migrants released; few report to ICE

A law enforcement officer walks to meet migrants crossed the Rio Grande River illegally last month. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

About 50,000 migrants who crossed the southern border illegally have now been released in the United States without a court date. Although they are told to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office instead, just 13% have showed up so far, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The sizable numbers are a sign of just how overwhelmed some sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border continue to be: A single stretch covering the Rio Grande Valley had 20,000 apprehensions in a week. The figures also show the shortcomings of recent emergency decisions to release migrants.

1 hour ago - World

Scoop: Israel launches maximum pressure campaign against Ben & Jerry's

A Ben & Jerry's store in Yavne, Israel. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty

The Israeli government has formed a special task force to pressure Ben & Jerry's ice cream and its parent company Unilever to reverse their decision to boycott Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government is concerned the move by Ben & Jerry's will encourage other international companies to take similar steps to differentiate between Israel and the West Bank settlements. A classified Foreign Ministry cable, seen by Axios, makes clear the government wants to send a message.

Video game developers at Activision Blizzard say they'll walk out Wednesday

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Employees at Activision Blizzard will hold a walkout Wednesday in protest of widespread harassment allegations across the company, a spokesperson on behalf of the group told Axios.

Why it matters: Walkouts are a drastic measure for developers in a largely non-unionized field, a testament to just how angry employees currently are.