Prepared Statement by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee
on American Innovation and Choice Online Act
January 20, 2022
S. 2992, the American Innovation and
Choice Online Act, was held over last week and is now ripe for committee
consideration. Senator Klobuchar and I, along with 10 of our Senate colleagues
from both sides of the aisle, introduced this bill to address growing concerns
with competition on Big Tech platforms.
This legislation prevents dominant Big
Tech platforms from anti-competitively preferencing their own products or
discriminating against competing products. This will ensure that there is
robust competition on dominant tech platforms. Our bill will help level the
playing field for small businesses and entrepreneurs that rely on dominant Big
Tech platforms to reach their customers.
I want to stress that this bill is not
meant to break up Big Tech or destroy the products and services they offer that
many of us, including myself, enjoy and use. Rather, the goal of this bill is
to prevent conduct that stifles competition while ensuring that pro-consumer
innovations and offerings are still available.
The Antitrust Subcommittee held four
hearings over the past year that directly explored all of these issues,
including a recent hearing in December that focused on the non-discrimination
competition issues that this bill addresses.
The manager’s amendment incorporates a
lot of feedback we’ve received from both senators and stakeholders. Among other
things, the manager’s amendment addresses national security concerns by clarifying
that the legislation doesn’t require data to be shared with bad actors. It
clarifies that a business can require user consent before sharing data with a
third party company.
It ensures that foreign companies,
including Chinese Big Tech companies such as TikTok, are subject to the same
rules of the road. It provides that enforcement action can only be brought in
Federal District Court. These are just a few of the improvements that the
manager’s amendment makes to the bill, so I hope everyone can support these
Again, I thank you Mr. Chairman for
putting the bill on the agenda. I look forward to voting favorably on this
legislation and urge all of my colleagues to do the same.
I’d also like to return to our
discussion at last week’s executive meeting about this committee’s oversight
The chairman stated last week, “We’ve
had an oversight hearing and will have more, with Merrick Garland. For the last
four years, unfortunately, in the previous administration, we didn’t. But I
think we’re trying to resume our position as the oversight committee, active
oversight committee, for the judiciary and the Department of Justice.”
Without objection, I’d like to introduce
a list of oversight hearings that I led as chairman of this committee during
2017 and 2018. The list consists of 19 full committee oversight hearings that
related to the Justice Department, its components, and the judiciary. It also
includes 7 subcommittee oversight hearings. That’s 26 oversight hearings. The
list would be longer if I included legislative hearings relating to the Justice
And the list would be much longer if I
included oversight hearings relating to Executive Branch departments and
agencies beyond the Justice Department. Clearly, when I was chairman, this
committee engaged in robust oversight of the Trump administration.
There are many ways that this committee
can and should engage in bipartisan oversight of the Biden administration. As
just one example, this committee should conduct an oversight hearing of the
Drug Enforcement Agency. Last November, Senator Durbin and I authored and sent
an oversight letter to the Drug Enforcement Agency. That letter asked that they
answer for their significant failures on overseeing foreign operations and foreign
law enforcement units. Our respective staffs have been in contact about
this. The Drug Enforcement Agency still
hasn’t responded to our letter. I understand this to be a bipartisan issue that
I’d also like to return to the list of
outstanding letters to the Justice Department that my staff sent your staff
last week. That list contained outstanding letters from Republican members. You
requested this list at our December 9, 2021, executive business meeting.
There’s still no movement from your side with respect to next steps with the
I strongly encourage this committee to
quickly assert its oversight equities on the Justice Department. As it
currently stands, by any metric, Attorney General Garland has failed to meet
the responsiveness standard required of this committee.
We also have a number of judicial
nominees up today. I’ll be supporting Judge Montenegro. I also wanted to
explain my vote against the nomination of Dale Ho.
Mr. Ho has extremely controversial legal
views. They include supporting interpreting the law based on personal “lived
experience” and applying the Bill of Rights differently based on what community
a person is in. These views are far
outside the mainstream. Mr. Ho has repeatedly shown that he’s a partisan
activist who lacks the judicial temperament to serve as a federal judge. He has spent much of his professional life on
Twitter and on cable TV attacking conservatives and the states, courts, and
people with whom he disagrees.
So I’ll vote against him.