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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Dealmakers are winning the long game on U.S. antitrust law, despite the current squeeze.

Driving the news: Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) — not normally a pair of legislative BFFs — recently introduced a bill that would make it much more difficult for a small group of Big Tech companies to make acquisitions.

  • It only would apply to acquirers with market caps in excess of $600 billion, as calculated when the bill becomes law (via a 180-day trading average).
  • An aide to Cotton tells me this was designed to specifically target the largest U.S. tech companies — including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft — while exempting other companies (Walmart, Exxon, Visa, etc.) whose market caps may someday surpass $600 billion. Consider this a blatant backdoor, given that legislation actually naming specific companies wouldn't pass constitutional muster.

Why it matters: The Klobuchar-Cotton bill is a manifestation of how Congressional obsession with Big Tech (narrowly defined) is taking precedence over a broader reformation of antiquated antitrust laws.

  • The Biden administration, on the other hand, is painting with a much broader brush, as evidenced by an executive order in June. And its hand-picked regulators, including Amazon critic Lina Khan at the FTC, are interested in a variety of industries and not terribly fixated on size.
  • But White House pressure is transitory by design, subject to be ignored or reversed every four years. Congressional action tends to be much stickier, which is why Corporate America in 2021 is still operating under a legal antitrust framework that was designed for Big Railroad.

The bottom line: The perceived sins of a few are codifying a future hall pass for the many.

Go deeper: Book publishers caught in Biden administration's antitrust crosshairs

Go deeper

Sen. Amy Klobuchar says she remains cancer-free

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said Wednesday that her first six-month post-cancer exam showed that "everything was clear."

The big picture: Klobuchar revealed in September that she had been diagnosed with stage 1A breast cancer in February. She completed radiation treatment in May and "it was determined in August that the treatment went well."

Nov 16, 2021 - Technology

Scoop: Microsoft, Uber leaving Internet Association

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Microsoft and Uber are leaving the Internet Association (IA), a trade group that lobbies on behalf of internet companies and the tech industry, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: Losing Microsoft and Uber, two major members, is a blow for the group. The association has seen steadily waning influence in D.C. in recent years, partly because it does not work on the competition and antitrust issues that beset the industry right now.

What they're saying: “It is always unfortunate to lose a member, but business decisions related to time and resources are to be respected," said Christina Martin, senior vice president of global communications and public affairs at The Internet Association.

  • "Microsoft and Uber have been great supporters of IA for nearly a decade. We have every hope they may return in the future," Martin said. “IA remains nearly 40 strong with new members having been added such as Discord, Notarize and NewsBreak.”   
  • "We advocate for public policies that support our business goals," a Microsoft spokesperson said. "As our business needs evolve, we periodically review trade association memberships to ensure alignment with our policy agenda."

Flashback: IA, which was founded in 2012 and includes members such as Google, Facebook and Amazon, thrived when it could fight for all of its member companies with a unified voice on policy goals, an easier mission in the earlier days of the internet, when tech still had a halo in Washington.

  • Now, tech companies often have different legislative priorities based on size or other factors. That has made IA's job more difficult and sometimes has set members at odds with one another.
  • Longtime former IA president Michael Beckerman is now at TikTok. Dane Snowden, a former cable lobbying group executive, is current president and CEO.
Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congressional leaders clinch support for crucial defense bill, debt limit votes

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer passes waiting reporters on Tuesday. Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Congress has found a shortcut to pass its annual defense funding bill and raise the debt limit.

Driving the news: The House voted Tuesday night on two major bills — one creating a one-time, fast-track process for the Senate to raise the debt ceiling with just 51 votes, and another passing its annual defense bill.