Colorado Rep. Ken Buck is pushing Congress to pass legislation that will curb Big Tech companies’ power, but is unsure whether he will remain the top Republican in charge of the House’s influential panel for antitrust policy.
Republican leaders’ decision about who will lead the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee will be a key signal about whether the new GOP majority aims to crack down on Big Tech companies via new antitrust policy.
Mr. Buck, author of the new book “Crushed: Big Tech’s War on Free Speech,” sought to work with Democrats in the last Congress to pass bills restraining major tech platforms and is now working to convince Republicans to do likewise.
Asked whether he expects to lead the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, Mr. Buck said it is not his decision to make but he would be honored to helm the panel as the majority’s top-ranking Republican.
“I don’t know what the speaker and chairman have in mind at this point,” Mr. Buck said in an interview. “I guess the answer is stay tuned. I think in the next month we’ll populate committees and leadership of committees and set the agenda.”
The House Judiciary Committee is led by Rep. Jim Jordan, who foreshadowed his oversight plans of major tech platforms in letters to executives at Apple, Amazon, Meta and Microsoft late last year before the GOP took charge of the House. The Ohio Republican wrote in the December letters that he believes “Big Tech is out to get conservatives” and is undermining Americans’ free speech in compliance with the Biden administration.
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Mr. Jordan and Mr. Buck have not always been on the same side of antitrust policy battles aiming to stymie Big Tech. In 2021, Mr. Jordan urged conservatives to oppose a slew of antitrust bills championed by Mr. Buck since Mr. Jordan saw them as giving the government too much power. Mr. Buck said at the time that the proposals represented a “scalpel, not a chainsaw” for antitrust law.
Mr. Buck told The Washington Times it’s clear grassroots conservatives are fed up with Big Tech and want Congress to address their concerns. He made clear he does not want to see prominent platforms destroyed but wants to spur more economic activity in the tech sector.
“I would define success as six Googles and eight Facebooks and seven Amazons,” Mr. Buck said. “I think that the competition in the marketplace is the key.”
Mr. Buck said he hopes his book helps people understand the threat posed to Americans by a few tech monopolies controlling the flow of information.
As House Republicans set priorities for how to address concerns about major tech companies, President Biden has issued a new call for bipartisan legislation to curb Big Tech. He wrote an opinion article for The Wall Street Journal last week urging lawmakers to develop new privacy protections, force tech platforms to take responsibility for the content on their services, and bring competition to the tech sector.
Mr. Buck questioned the sincerity of Mr. Biden’s message, given its timing.
“Where was President Biden for the last two years when the Democrats controlled the House, the Senate and the White House?” Mr. Buck said. “It’s great that he’s now saying that we should have this bipartisan reform; we had the votes in the House, we had the votes in the Senate, to pass major antitrust legislation that would have reined in the power of these monopolies, and he was silent.”
Mr. Jordan and Speaker Kevin McCarthy did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.