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Rep. Bob Goodlatte. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

An anti-trafficking bill won the House's approval Tuesday despite a scramble by internet companies to slow it down in the final hours before the vote.

Why it matters: The 388-25 vote to pass the bill was a striking defeat for Big Tech in Washington as the industry is fighting more battles than ever. It now heads to the Senate and, if it passes, seems likely to get Trump's signature.

The bill that passed on Tuesday combined a House proposal that many in tech approved of with language from the Senate that worried some internet companies. The say the measure makes it easier to sue online platforms over user-generated content.

What we’re hearing:

  • Some tech groups scrambled over the last week to slow the progress of the legislative package. On Tuesday they questioned the process by which the Senate language was added to the legislation and drew attention to a final-hours letter from the Department of Justice raising concerns about one aspect of the bill.
  • "This last-minute letter from the Department of Justice is a clear signal that this bill has been rushed to the floor," said Evan Engstrom, the Executive Director of startup advocacy organization Engine. “There are serious concerns lawmakers must address to help law enforcement, tech companies and victims' groups end the heinous crime of sex trafficking."
  • House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) also declined to either recommend or advise against a vote on the package in a communication sent to lawmakers, according to multiple sources. That’s something that opponents could see as a sign of disapproval and supporters were able to see as acquiescence. Goodlatte ultimately voted against adding the language from the Senate but in favor of the overall bill.

Yes, but: The bill is backed by some larger companies in tech. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said in a post this week that the company supports "efforts to pass amended legislation in the House that would allow responsible companies to continue fighting sex trafficking while giving victims the chance to seek justice against companies that knowingly facilitate such abhorrent acts." IBM also sent a letter backing the legislation to House leaders.

  • The trade group Internet Association, which represents Google, Facebook and others, supported both the House and Senate language separately but did not outright endorse the combined measure that passed on Tuesday.

What’s next?: Supporters of the legislation hope it will get a vote in the Senate in the next four to six weeks, an aide said, at which point it would head to President Trump.

  • "This bipartisan piece of legislation provides important tools for Federal prosecutors and State officials to fight the scourge of sex trafficking," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. "The Administration remains concerned about certain provisions in the bill, as expressed in the Department of Justice’s technical assistance, and hopes that these issues can be resolved in a final bill presented to the President for signature.

Go deeper

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.

Exclusive: Hundreds of kids held in Border Patrol stations

Migrants cross the Rio Bravo to get to El Paso, Texas. Photo: Herika Martinez/AFP via Getty Images

More than 700 children who crossed from Mexico into the United States without their parents were in Border Patrol custody as of Sunday, according to an internal Customs and Border Protection document obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The current backup is yet another sign of a brewing crisis for President Biden — and a worsening dilemma for these vulnerable children. Biden is finding it's easier to talk about preventing warehousing kids at the southern border than solving the problem.

Pompeo plots 2024 power play

Mike Pompeo in Washington on Feb. 12. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Mike Pompeo has quickly reentered the political fray, raising money for Republicans, addressing key political gatherings and joining an advocacy group run by Donald Trump's former lawyer.

Why it matters: The former secretary of state is widely considered a potential 2024 presidential contender. His professional moves this week indicate he's working to keep his name in the headlines and bolster a political brand built largely on foreign policies easily contrasted with the Biden White House.