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House Antitrust Subcommittee Calls for Justice Department to Take Action Against Monopolies Beyond Big Tech

The House antitrust panel wants Biden administration prosecutors to target monopolies outside the tech sector, pressuring the Justice Department to extend its gaze to other industries. 

Rep. Thomas Massie, who leads the antitrust panel, said Tuesday that it is high time for President Biden’s antitrust enforcers to tackle airlines and the meat industry over Big Tech.  

The Kentucky Republican said at a House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee meeting that his constituents do not care about Google’s alleged market power in online search and advertising. 

“I’ve had lots of interactions over 11 years, nobody has told me that they’re worried about Google taking over their lives and asking me to come in here to Congress and do something about Google,” Mr. Massie said at the hearing. “None of my 750,000 constituents.”

Mr. Massie’s remarks suggest House Republicans have no intention of rescuing the Justice Department’s efforts to crack down on Big Tech if its antitrust case against Google fails in federal court across town. 

The Justice Department and Google have squared off in Washington for more than two months. Federal prosecutors’ civil lawsuit alleges Google’s dominance over online search violates antitrust law, and Google contends its power is a result of its success in competition. 

A ruling may not come down until early next year, but the Justice Department sounds optimistic about the case and its other antitrust lawsuit against Google alleging the company has an unlawful digital advertising monopoly. 

Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter told the House antitrust panel that he would not comment on the Google lawsuit that is being argued simultaneously down the street from Capitol Hill, but he sounded optimistic about his team’s progress. 

“We have two cases, one of which succeeded on the summary judgment, the other that survived a motion to dismiss,” Mr. Kanter said of his department’s antitrust litigation against Google.

Some lawmakers are worried the Justice Department’s antitrust enforcers are missing other problems amid their pursuit of Google. 

Rep. Jim Jordan, Judiciary Committee chairman, criticized Mr. Kanter’s team for not protecting Americans’ free-speech rights amid pushes for corporations to prioritize environmental, social, and governance factors. 

The Ohio Republican said Mr. Kanter also has meddled in trade negotiations and neglected to protect consumers. 

“Across the United States there is ample evidence of collusion between powerful organizations — these groups joined together to force ESG policies on American consumers and businesses and set policies to censor conservative voices,” Mr. Jordan said. “What has the assistant attorney general for the antitrust division done to rein in this blatant collusion among the most powerful financial institutions and companies in the world? Not much.”

Some Democrats have concerns about Mr. Kanter, too. Rep. Lou Correa, California Democrat, cautioned Mr. Kanter’s division against actions that may hamper competition.

“I agree with your goals but I caution the division that in following its mission to stamp out antitrust violations, it needs to be careful not to unintentionally harm competition or consumers,” Mr. Correa told Mr. Kanter. “We need to make sure that no unintended consequences are actually created and more importantly that you don’t hurt American jobs.”  

• This article was based in part on wire service reports.

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