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.
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.
Amazon’s concerns about the bill have focused on how it would impact the company’s retail business. However, the cloud computing business AWS — the most profitable part of the company — could potentially be affected as well.
Friday was Smith’s last day in the Senate according to a farewell email obtained by POLITICO and one of the people with knowledge of his jump to Amazon. All of the individuals were granted anonymity to discuss a confidential matter.
Smith declined to comment. A spokesperson for Grassley declined to comment. Spokespeople for AWS and Klobuchar did not immediately respond for comment.
Bloomberg earlier reported Smith’s move to Amazon.
Smith is far from the first such staffer to be lured away from the hill to Amazon. Among others, April Jones, a tech and telecom policy staffer for Klobuchar, left to take a job with Apple as a senior government affairs policy counsel last fall. But Smith’s departure comes as AICOA’s chances have been dimming by the day.
Klobuchar has been pressing Schumer to bring it to a vote before the Senate’s August recess, assuring him that it has the votes to pass. AICOA passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with support from both parties earlier this year.
Outside advocates on both sides of the aisle have also been pressuring Schumer — going so far as to pay for a mobile billboard to be parked outside his home urging him to hold a vote.
Then last week, Bloomberg reported that Schumer privately told a group of corporate donors that he did not believe the bill had the votes to break a filibuster in the Senate.
Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.
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( Information from politico.com was used in this report. To Read More, click here )