Lu Korea, opponent of antitrust technology reform, the first contender for a major role

Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) questions Intelligence Committee Minority Counsel Stephen Castor and Intelligence Committee Majority Counsel Daniel Goldman during House Impeachment Inquiry hearings before the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill on December 9, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Doug Mills | pool | Getty Images

A California lawmaker who has opposed efforts to crack down on the tech industry is a leading contender to become the top Democrat in the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee.

Rep. Lou Correa, who represents part of Southern California, is being discussed as the potential successor to former ranking member David Cicilline, Dr. I, according to four sources who spoke in the background about the private discussions. Cicilline previously announced that he will be leaving Congress effective June 1.

If Correa ascends to the role, it would be a stark reversal of attitude at the head of the subcommittee, which a few years ago led an intense investigation into AmazonAnd appleAnd Google And Facebook Which every monopoly power found and maintained. Under Cicilline, the CEOs of every company faced hours of grilling before the committee. The Judiciary Committee has also been able to pass a package of antitrust bills aimed at curbing the power of large players in the industry by preventing them from favoring their own products in their markets or by banning the ownership of two companies that are of conflict of interest.

Things could still change, but Correa is in a good position based on his seniority. Correa’s team spoke with judiciary staff about possible priorities for the subcommittee, according to a House staffer, and the vote could take place in the next two weeks.

A Correa spokesman declined to comment.

A senior Democratic aide called the prospect of Correa becoming a senior member “a big win for tech companies.” If he ascends to the highest Democratic office, he will sit next to President Thomas Massie, R-Ky., who is chosen over former House member Ken Buck, R-Culu. Buck has been the top Republican champion for tech antitrust bills.

While Cicilline and Buck defended bills that sought to crack down on what they saw as unfair practices by big tech companies and support increased funding for antitrust enforcement agencies, Correa opposed tech antitrust bills and voted against legislation that would raise funds for the commission. Federal Trade and Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice.

Democrats are in the minority in the House of Representatives, so whoever is in office won’t be able to set the subcommittee’s agenda. But several sources who spoke to CNBC said Korea’s track record indicates that the tech antitrust will take a back seat for a while on the subcommittee if it gets approval. Indeed, the kinds of bills that came out of the Judiciary Committee in the summer of 2021 are now stalled, aided by technological pressure.

Correa received Chamber of Commerce endorsement for his 2022 campaign. The Chamber notably opposed progressive measures by the Federal Trade Commission and warned that legislative reforms in the United States could undermine the country’s economic security. Since 2018, Correa has received about $17,000 in donations from tech companies’ political action committees, including those from Amazon, Google, and Meta.

Korea is not likely to be a popular choice among progressive groups. Groups such as the Demand Progress Education Fund, Economic Security Project Action and Fight for the Future urged the committee in April to choose a replacement for Cicilline “with a similar steadfast commitment to antitrust policies” who voted in favor of all bills in the House. Antitrust tech judicial package.

Several senior members of the subcommittee who support tech antitrust reform had seemed more likely for the Democratic Party’s top seat not long ago. But this field is complicated by the fact that many of them already have high-level positions on other subcommittees that they may not want to give up. That includes former Antitrust Subcommittee Vice Chair Joe Nijoz, D-Colo, as well as Representatives Mary Jay Scanlon, D-Pa. and Pramela Jayapal, D-Wash.

However, the top Democratic aide said the focus on tech antitrust issues won’t go away entirely, even if they become less of a focus in the House. The aide cited ongoing efforts at the White House and enforcement agencies to address digital competition issues.

“These issues are still there,” the aide said. “They won’t go away.”

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