Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has introduced legislation to Democrats that would allow media companies to form formal cartels to negotiate with big tech companies, several congressional aides and others familiar with the process told Breitbart News on Wednesday.
If Cruz goes ahead with his plan—and allows the Senate to advance the legislation—he will immediately become one of the biggest supporters of the establishment media and big tech giants, and he could seriously threaten his political future.
Cruz, who had previously made a committee markup on the Journalism Competition and Protection Act (JCPA) weeks earlier, now decided to give Klobuchar what he wanted and allow the Democrat proposal to pass out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Considered by the full US Senate.
Several aides on both sides of the JCPA fight familiar with the matter told Breitbart News on Wednesday that Cruz approached Klobuchar and agreed to change the proposed language in an amendment to allow the bill to move forward. Asked repeatedly about it Wednesday, Cruz’s office did not deny the characterization of the aides.
Cruz himself did not respond to Breitbart News inquiries directly to the senator by text. Several Cruz staffers declined to answer whether he had cut a deal with Klobuchar, and they declined to make the senator available for an interview to explain himself.
A spokesman for Cruz would only provide, when asked detailed and serious questions about the possibility of a deal and what form the deal would take, a general statement claiming that Cruz opposes censorship of conservatives – something that would be inherently untrue if he voted or Simply even just enabling the Senate to consider this legislation.
“Sen. Cruz is a fierce defender of the First Amendment and free speech, and he will always fight to protect Americans from being censored or silenced,” a Cruz spokesperson told Breitbart News.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is again considering the JCPA on Thursday for the third week in a row, though Cruz’s office declined to answer specific questions on the matter. Late Wednesday, the committee circulated a clarifying amendment that does exactly what various committee aides told Breitbart News that Cruz had warned Klobuchar about: altering the original Cruz amendment text, and removing those that Klobuchar said he could not support.
The office of Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), who three weeks ago narrowed the larger bill to support Cruz’s amendment in committee, confirmed that Cruz approached Klobuchar on the Daily Caller News Foundation records. Proponents of the JCPA—like Kennedy—and now Cruz—falsely claim it will help conservatives fight Big Tech. The law does not, among serious structural problems, include a favorable nation clause, which means that a group of media companies can band together on their own and negotiate a sweetheart deal with a big tech company, but that deal Not every media company will apply.
Kennedy’s office said in a statement to that publication:
We reached an agreement that clarifies what the bill was designed to do: give local news outlets a real seat at the negotiating table and prevent tech companies from throttling, filtering, suppressing or curating content. The only reason I can see to oppose this bill is that they either have a healthy market competition or free speech problem.
The original Cruz amendment complicated efforts by bill proponents to get the proposal out of the Senate Judiciary Committee several weeks ago. This was because Kennedy supported it – as did the other GOP co-sponsors of the JCPA – while Democrats like Klobuchar opposed it. Incidentally, Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) was stranded in India with the coronavirus and did not nominate a proxy vote for himself, so the Cruz amendment was accepted into the bill and supported by GOP allies like Kennedy and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), as well as Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), was unwilling to vote for the bill without Cruz’s amendment. As such, a visibly angry Klobuchar withdrew his own bill — and he tried again last week to no avail. Now, thanks to Cruz’s caveat, he may succeed in committee if he tries again Thursday morning.