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Amazon Hires Key Senate Judiciary Staffer

 |  August 1, 2022

Judd Smith, a senior Republican staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee who was instrumental in drafting legislation to rein in tech giants, is leaving to take a job as a lobbyist for Amazon Web Services, according to two people briefed on the matter.

Smith’s move is particularly notable because the legislation he was working on — the American Innovation and Choice Online Act — is losing steam. Its sponsors are pushing for a floor vote, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has so far resisted their pleas.

The bill would ban Big Tech companies like Google, Apple, Amazon and Meta from favoring their own services in an anticompetitive way, similar to a House bill approved by the House Judiciary Committee as part of a marathon markup last summer.

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Smith was one of the main Republican staffers working to draft the bipartisan legislation led by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to curtail the power of Amazon, Google, Apple, Meta and Microsoft.

The legislation — the most serious attempt at tightening oversight of the tech industry in years — would bar those companies from prioritizing their products over their competitors who rely on those companies to reach customers. Amazon, for example, would be barred from promoting its own private-label products over rival items on its e-commerce platform.

Legislation aimed at reining in the power of giant technology companies appears to have hit a wall after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told a group of donors he doesn’t believe there are enough votes to pass the measure.