Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told a collection of Democratic donors on Tuesday that a closely watched bipartisan antitrust bill to rein in Big Tech doesn’t have the votes to pass.
That puts the chief Senate Democrat at odds with Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who are both pushing the legislation and have claimed for months that they have the 60 votes needed to get it through the Senate.
Schumer (D-NY) was asked about the bill during an evening question-and-answer session with donors at swanky Capitol Hill eatery Bistro Bis. He responded by saying that the bill was a “high priority” but doesn’t have the votes to pass.
Schumer’s comments were first reported by Bloomberg.
The bill, called the American Choice and Innovation Online Act, would bar companies from “self-preferencing” their own products in search results.
For example, Amazon wouldn’t be allowed to give “Amazon Basics” products a leg up over third-party items, while Google would be barred from giving “Google Flights” priority over rivals like Expedia and Kayak.
Schumer spokesperson Angelo Roefaro told The Post that the bill is a “high priority” for Schumer and that the majority leader “supports the bill and is working with Senator Klobuchar to get the votes.”
While 60 senators have not yet come out in support of the bill, many Capitol Hill insiders say the bill would nonetheless pass if Schumer brings it up for a vote, The Post reported on Sunday.
In the words of one senior GOP Senate aide, Klobuchar and Grassley both have a “chicken and egg problem” in which senators don’t want to publicly support the bill unless they know it is a priority for party leadership.
“Klobuchar needs commitments to bring to Schumer, but no one wants to go on record until they have to,” the aide said. “Plenty of members seem happy to keep sitting on the fence, regardless of how they might ultimately vote.”
Bloomberg reported that the majority leader threw cold water on that idea during a Tuesday’s donor shindig, saying that he doesn’t believe bringing the bill to a vote without public commitments would be effective.
“We were promised a vote on this bill, and we take him at his word,” a spokeswoman for Klobuchar said. “We have growing momentum and the support to pass the bill despite the fact that the companies have spent an atrocious amount of money on lobbyists and tv ads spreading false information. The Senate should be on the side of consumers, not monopolies.”
Lobbyists from Microsoft, American Express and Procter & Gamble were present at the event, according to the news outlet.
Schumer’s comments effectively amounted to a snub of Klobuchar, who took the Senate floor to deliver a half-hour speech in support of the bill around the same time that Schumer downplayed its chances to donors.
“I urge my colleagues to bring this bill to the floor,” Klobuchar said on Tuesday evening. “I’ve gotten a commitment to get a vote on this bill.”
“Innovation that is vital to our American economy cannot thrive without open, competitive markets,” the senator added.
Grassley told The Post last week that it was “past time” for a vote on the bill.
Representatives Grassley did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Additional reporting by Lydia Moynihan
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