Nothing good comes from lame-duck congressional sessions; they’re a frequent repository for bad legislation. From the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 to Obamacare in 2009, examples of badly thought-out legislation passing in December are too numerous to list.
The latest iteration of this long-standing truism comes from the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate. Democrat U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN) is attempting to move the so-called “Journalism Competition Protection Act” during the lame-duck session.
Klobuchar claims her bill will allow local media outlets to negotiate bulk discount advertising rates with Big Tech publishers like Facebook or Twitter. Utah Senator Mike Lee disagrees with Klobuchar’s assertion and characterizes the bill as “Obamacare for the press.”
The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act is nothing less than Obamacare for the press. Congress should reject making the same mistake twice. pic.twitter.com/6uHiVrzPyz
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) September 8, 2022
Against this backdrop, last fall U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) attached an amendment to Klobuchar’s bill that would have limited its scope to the alleged harm under discussion.
Explaining his amendment, Cruz said, “Censorship is becoming more and more blatant on the internet. Big Tech is more and more naked in silencing the voices with which they disagree. This bill, if it is enacted, would create an exemption from the anti-trust laws to allow Big Tech to sit down with an enormous conglomerate of media operations and negotiate free from the antitrust laws.”
The amendment, according to Cruz, stated that “if you’re negotiating, you ought to be negotiating on the ostensible harm that this bill is directed at, which is the inability to get revenues from your content. You should not be negotiated on content moderation and how you are going to censor substantive content.” The bill, Cruz added, “simply says the topic of discussion, when these two sides get together, can’t be censorship. It should be ad revenues, which is what all of the discussion of this markup has focused on.”
The remark was perhaps the most important one of the day, and put the wheels in motion on Klobuchar’s withdrawal of the JCPA.
A source informs Texas Scorecard that Klobuchar intends to move the bill this week without Cruz’ amendment.
While it is unknown which Republicans have abandoned Cruz, Sens. Lindsay Graham (SC), John Kennedy (LA), Rand Paul (KY) and Cynthia Lummis (WY) sponsored the original version of the bill.