House Judiciary approves bill to increase antitrust enforcement budget

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The U.S. House Judiciary Committee has voted to approve a bill to increase the budgets of antitrust enforcers as the panel considered a slate of sweeping bills aimed at tech giants.

After more than three hours of discussion, the committee voted 29-12 to approve a piece of legislation that would significantly bolster the budgets of the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission. The bill would also increase the filing fees for the largest mergers, Reuters reported Wednesday.

Additionally, the panel voted 34-7 to approve a bill that could keep antitrust cases brought by state attorneys general in the court they selected.

The bills are part of a sweeping legislative plan to rein in the power of major technology companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google. The legislative package was first introduced earlier in June.

Alongside the approved bills, the House panel is also considering proposals that could make it easier for consumers to transfer their data to other platforms, place restrictions on the preinstallation of first-party apps, and ban companies from acquiring rising rivals.

The bills were introduced after a 16-month investigation carried out by the House's antitrust subcommittee, which concluded that Big Tech's power is monopolistic. The House began reviewing potential solutions in 2021.

Apple, for its part, has argued that the legislation would "harm consumers" and create a "race to the bottom" in terms of privacy. Apple CEO Tim Cook has also reportedly called U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in an attempt to sway opinions ahead of the ratification of the bills.

The approval of the bills by the House Judiciary Committee doesn't mean that they have passed, only that they are now slated for a vote before the full U.S. House of Representatives.

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