Few lawmakers have attracted Amazon’s attention like Pramila Jayapal, the representative of Amazon’s hometown. The 7th Congressional District Democrat focused on the strong technology industry, especially the four industries where she believes that Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple may have monopolistic behavior.
Recently, Rep. Jayapal sat down with GeekWire to talk about her “Termination of Platform Monopoly Law“(Human resources 3825)-She said this legislation was supported by the Biden administration-and her enthusiasm for the United States to become a global leader in vaccine distribution, and why paid parental leave should be part of the infrastructure plan.
This Q&A has been edited for brevity and clarity. Listen to or watch the full interview in the podcast or video below.
GeekWire: You find yourself having some disputes with the state’s largest employer and one of Amazon’s largest employers. Before we dive into the details of your legislation, the “Termination of Platform Monopoly Law”, how do you think Amazon is both a company and an employer?
Jayapar: Look, I’m really grateful for the innovation that exists in our region, and the fact that Amazon was born here and provides many high-paying jobs for people across the state and across the country. But none of this has changed the fact that monopoly power as a whole actually hinders creativity and innovation, and it is this power that led to the creation of Amazon and caused Seattle and the Seventh District to achieve this in these areas. success.
The reality is that when you have this kind of centralized monopoly power, and you don’t have the kind of anti-monopoly regulation we propose, then what happens is that you concentrate all your power on a few large technology companies, and you are not good for small businesses. , Is not good for consumers, and equally important is that it is not good for innovation and competition.
I know that a large portion of my voters may work for Amazon. This is not about the people working for Amazon at all, but about the centralized power and the government’s role in monitoring and controlling this concentration so that other small businesses can thrive and survive.
GW: Let us talk about your legislation. Can you explain the meaning of “conflict of interest” and antitrust, especially related to Amazon and what your legislative council does?
Jayapar: It’s kind of like you have two teams on the same court. The person who is the referee, the (same) person who sets the rules of the game, the person who calls all the games, and the person who happens to play on one of the teams, everyone will say,’Well, it’s not fair, it doesn’t make any sense. Well, this is the meaning of the conflict of interest between the antitrust field and these technology companies.
We will use Amazon as an example. Amazon is a market, they control the market, and they make the rules of the game for the market. If you want to sell on Amazon’s marketplace, you must follow these rules. Then, they collect all the data on each seller sold in the market. Then they produce their own private label products to compete with those on the market.
All of this means that a small business is in an extremely unfair situation, they are not acting in accordance with the same rules, and all their data has been stolen.
Amazon knows exactly what to sell, to whom, how much to spend, and how much consumers are willing to pay. Therefore, they can weaken and push the seller to exit the business, or they will buy a company you know. For some companies, it’s great for you to buy it, but it will eliminate all competition.
GW: So what is the actual application? Essentially, the idea is to divide Amazon into at least two—if not more—companies?
Jayapar: Well, if Amazon or any other technology company does not comply with the regulations and there is a conflict of interest, then yes, you will have to separate them. Now, other things may happen in the process-they can basically divest a company, the ownership must be different. You can’t take it apart and call it something else. But many things may happen in this process. However, if they still refuse to comply, then yes, the solution is to split the company and ensure that there is a structural separation between the buyer and the seller, if you will.
GW: Andy Jassy is now in charge of the company. This legislation and other bills are there, I believe he is very interested. Have you met Andy Jassy? Do you think it is possible that a new leadership will emerge there, opening the door to some form of dialogue?
Jayapar: I haven’t met him yet. But I will be very happy to meet him. I am very happy to meet with Amazon before. That is not what they are looking for. I think our early meetings did not go well. But I think the reality is that technology companies understand that this rule is coming. By the way, this is not just in Washington, DC. This is happening all over the world, in the European Union and other parts of the world, the same regulations are working.
GW: What are your expectations for monopolistic platform behavior? Does the White House support it?
Jayapar: In fact, they support it. As you may have seen, they appointed some of the best people we are pushing, (FTC Chairman) Lina Khan, (Deputy Director of the National Economic Council) Bharat Ramamurti, (Special Assistant to the President) Tim Wu, and many others. Even an excellent choice for the Antitrust Attorney General (Jonathan Kanter). We are excited for him. So it looks very good. The trajectory will be that the Senate will propose the same House of Representatives bill, preferably by the two parties again, and then we will try to pass the House of Representatives bill as soon as possible. Obviously, we are now focusing on reconciliation. But I hope that in the next three to six months, we can pass these bills through the House of Representatives.
GW: Let us focus on Washington State. Do you support the idea of mandatory vaccination?
Jayapar: I support it. We have done everything we can to encourage people to get vaccinated. Unfortunately, there are a lot of error messages there. I’m not talking about people who cannot be vaccinated due to impaired immune status. I’m not talking about people who have not had a day off and therefore cannot go to a place to get vaccinated. I’m talking about people who deliberately spread misinformation about vaccines.
There are many vaccines you can get to protect yourself, but they have no real impact on other people. This is not the case with the COVID vaccine. The COVID vaccine is to protect yourself, but it is actually to protect everyone around you. Because the more people who are not vaccinated, the more the virus has the ability to transform into more and more dangerous variants and kill more and more people. Therefore, unless we reach vaccination status at a certain threshold, we will continue to deal with this situation and see more and more vaccinated and unvaccinated deaths because the virus will continue to change and metamorphose.
GW: In terms of infrastructure, from the federal government’s infrastructure funding, Washington’s wish list should be at the top?
Jayapar: Well, it depends on how you define the infrastructure. I have to start with this, because infrastructure is not only roads and bridges, but everything you need on the road. This means nurseries, or community colleges, so that people can receive training. So for me, this is just a big picture. But in terms of physical hard infrastructure, I think we must solve all the infrastructure that collapses under our feet. This is not just roads and bridges. It is also our lead water pipe. We need to make drinking water clean. We need to make sure that we invest in green energy solutions, including electric vehicles, transportation, and everything that allows us to deal with climate change at the same time.
We provided Amazon with an opportunity to comment, and the company recommended to us Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, in June on Jayapal’s bill and others in the House of Representatives to address technology Statement on market competition issues. In essence, Amazon believes that these bills will have a “significant negative impact” on companies, making it more difficult for them to reach and market to Amazon customers and make a living through their market, while reducing price competition and potentially increasing consumer prices. Amazon called on Congress to slow down and “to thoroughly review the wording in the bill to deal with unexpected negative consequences.”