Cliff Owen / AP

A Republican senator wants Google and Facebook to publicly defend their opposition, articulated through one of their top trade groups, to a bill aimed at stopping sex-trafficking. The companies say it would imperil them legally.

The bigger picture: Large tech companies are no longer sacred in Washington and lawmakers keep suggesting their executives should testify.

The details:

  • The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing next week on the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. It would weaken a provision that protects websites like Google, Facebook and YouTube from being sued for what their users post, so that trafficking victims could sue sites that facilitated the crime. The industry has said this could have disastrous consequences for the platform business model.
  • Lawmakers will hear testimony from a staffer for the Internet Association, which represents both companies. Bill sponsor Sen. Rob Portman wants the companies to show up themselves.
  • Two Senate sources tell Axios, however, that the companies were offered the opportunity to testify and said no. Instead they pointed towards the Internet Association. Facebook declined to comment on whether they had declined an opportunity to testify, Google did not respond.

Key quote: "I would hope that they would come and testify and tell the American people why they oppose it," Portman told Axios. "Whoever opposes it — if they're out lobbying against it, we should hear from them. Rather than behind closed doors, talk about it publicly."

Go deeper

Jeff Sessions loses Alabama Senate primary runoff

Jeff Sessions. Photo: Michael DeMocker/Getty Images

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions has lost the Republican nomination for Senate to Tommy Tuberville in Alabama in Tuesday night’s primary runoff, AP reports.

Why it matters: Sessions had been the underdog in the race against former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, who had the backing of President Trump. Tuberville will now face off against Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) in November, who is considered to have one of the most vulnerable Democratic Senate seats in the country.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 13,273,537 — Total deaths: 577,006 — Total recoveries — 7,367,106Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 3,424,304 — Total deaths: 136,432 — Total recoveries: 1,049,098 — Total tested: 41,764,557Map.
  3. Politics: Biden welcomes Trump wearing mask in public but warns "it’s not enough"
  4. Public health: Four former CDC heads say Trump's undermining of agency puts lives at risk — CDC director: U.S. could get coronavirus "under control" in 4–8 weeks if all wear masks.

Bank CEOs brace for worsening economic scenario

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Photo: J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Wells Fargo swung to its first loss since the financial crisis — while JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup reported significantly lower profits from a year earlier — as the banks set aside billions of dollars more in the second quarter for loans that may go bad.

Why it matters: The cumulative $28 billion in loan loss provisions that banks have so far announced they’re reserving serves as a signal they’re preparing for a colossal wave of loan defaults as the economy slogs through a coronavirus-driven downturn.