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JULY 11, 2022
Dayen on TAP
Schumer’s Visit to Seattle
The Democratic Senate leader was in Amazon and Microsoft country right as he’s deciding whether to advance a bill that would weaken their power.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced Sunday night that he had COVID, which delays any strict party-line votes for at least a week. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the longest-serving senator, is recuperating from a hip replacement surgery, though his spokesperson has said he could make a vote if needed this week.

This tightens up the calendar for consequential votes like a reconciliation package, which all sides want to complete before the August recess. There just isn’t a lot of time left.

One would think that Schumer would spend at least some of this time advancing bills that have bipartisan support, to put some more wins on the board. The biggest of these is the tech antitrust bill, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which would prevent “self-preferencing” by large tech platforms. According to Axios, Schumer promised the Democratic co-sponsor, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), a vote on the legislation by “early summer.” (Note: It is no longer early summer.)

The bill has been hampered by some late-game uncertainty around what it would do to content moderation. But supporters continue to insist that if the bill got a full Senate vote, it would clear the 60-vote hurdle. All that stands in the way of that is Schumer putting it on the floor.

Which is why an Instagram photo from the middle of last week is intriguing. It shows Schumer posing for a photo just outside the W Hotel in Bellevue, Washington. Bellevue happens to be roughly equidistant from the corporate headquarters of Amazon and Microsoft. Amazon has lobbied strongly against the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. While Microsoft supports a second tech antitrust bill, the Open App Markets Act, its president Brad Smith has kept a noncommittal stance on AICOA, telling Geekwire, “We’re not trying to lobby in favor of the bill. But that doesn’t mean we’re opposing it either.”

Senate leaders travel the country looking for money all the time, especially to wealthy cities on the coasts. It’s entirely possible that Schumer was up in the Seattle area for midterm election fundraisers that have nothing to do with tech companies, though tech executives would be the likeliest candidates to attend those fundraisers. A query to Sen. Schumer’s office about what he was doing in Seattle last week was not returned.

That said, it seems more than coincidental that Schumer wound up in Washington state, in the vicinity of Amazon and Microsoft. Yes, he has a daughter who works for Amazon, but she lives in New York.

It’s not hard to come up with a plausible explanation. Schumer is deciding whether or not to give the tech legislation a vote. He shows up in a city with two large tech firms that would be materially affected by the legislation. That’s certainly good leverage to extract campaign contributions, contingent on the fate of the bill. Those types of promises are occasionally made, implicitly if not explicitly.

At any rate, we will soon find out the answer. Contributions to the Senate’s campaign arm or Schumer’s own Senate campaign will eventually be made public. And the tech antitrust bill will either get a vote, or it won’t.

The Case Against Judicial Review
If Democrats don’t bring the Supreme Court to heel, Americans will live under judicial despotism for the foreseeable future. BY RYAN COOPER
Hospital Systems Reverse Reproductive Health Restrictions
The experience of two large systems in Michigan and Missouri speaks to a larger confusion about the role of hospitals in a post-‘Roe’ world. BY JAROD FACUNDO
New York’s Democratic Primary Could Decide the Fate of Democrats’ Big Tech Push
If Jerry Nadler loses, the House Judiciary Committee leadership would likely go to Silicon Valley defender Zoe Lofgren. BY ALEXANDER SAMMON
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