Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) will oppose the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), his spokesman confirmed to Breitbart News on Wednesday afternoon.
The JCPA is a plan that proponents argue would allow media outlets to collectively bargain to make Big Tech companies pay for content on their platforms, but in reality would allow the creation of media cartels that critics worry would disproportionately advantage establishment media and hurt conservative media. The bill’s lead sponsor is Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), a Democrat from Minnesota who ran for president in 2020 but lost in the primary to now-President Joe Biden.
Tillis’s opposition, which Tillis communications director Adam Webb confirmed on Wednesday afternoon, is yet another blow to proponents of the highly controversial plan. The effort is headed to a markup in the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled for Thursday, and now the effort to get more Republicans on board seems to be fading quickly as very few options remain.
Only two Republicans on the committee have cosponsored the bill: Sens. John Kennedy (R-LA), the lead GOP sponsor of the plan, and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Kennedy, though he remains supportive and is expected to back the plan in committee and if it ever gets to the floor of the U.S. Senate, has, as Breitbart News reported this week, expressed concerns with his own plan. Kennedy’s office disagrees with the characterization that he has expressed concerns, but a Kennedy aide did confirm the senator pushed for and got changes from the original bill that he claims help conservatives. But critics argue they are hardly enough to ameliorate the larger structural problems with the controversial plan.
Other Republicans on the committee, such as Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Josh Hawley (R-MO) have expressed opposition. Among Republicans on the Committee, only Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) have not yet taken a position, but most expect them to oppose the plan.
Among Democrats, too, not all of them cosponsor the plan and it is unclear if there will be unified Democrat support for the proposal—or if some of the Democrats might break from proponents as concerns arise on the left about the bill as well.
Cotton and Blackburn have been leading the charge against the proposal, criticizing it for months, and several on both sides of the plan thought it was dead multiple times before, but the heavy-duty lobbying effort to revive it led to the scheduling of the markup this week.
Losing Tillis as a senator in contention is almost a death blow for the efforts to pass this plan out of the U.S. Senate this year. To get there, proponents need at least ten Republicans to join all Senate Democrats—if Democrats are fully unified, something of which there is no evidence yet that that is the case—and only seven Republicans have cosponsored the legislation so far.
Getting over that 60-vote filibuster threshold is getting more and more difficult as more senators announce their opposition, while supporters of the bill are harder to come by. It is not over yet, though, and how the markup plays out will be particularly interesting—and how fierce the opposition from Sens. Blackburn and Cotton is could dictate the chances of getting this bill out of the full U.S. Senate this year. The calendar is running short, too, with very few legislative days left in Congress in 2022 as members head out into campaign season later in September and will not return to Washington for official business until after the election for the lame duck session of Congress later in the year. In other words, the clock is ticking, and supporters of the media cartel plan are running out of room to run and need a big break if they are going to succeed.