A group of GOP senators introduced a bill Tuesday to strip Major League Baseball (MLB) of antitrust exemptions over its boycott of Georgia.
Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, and Mike Lee of Utah announced the bill targeting the MLB in a press conference. The senators slammed “woke corporations” that have pressured Georgia to roll back election reforms signed into law in March. The MLB took an additional step of relocating its 2021 all-star game and rookie draft out of Atlanta to protest the reforms.
“It’s always been the case that big business seeks handouts, seeks subsidies, seeks special benefits at the expense of the little guy, at the expense of the small business. But in the past month, these woke corporations have decided to become the political enforcer for Democrats in Washington,” Cruz told a group of reporters. “What prompted this legislation being introduced was Major League Baseball’s decision to pull the all-star game out of Atlanta, Georgia.”
“Major League Baseball made the decision that the more than half of its fans who happen to be Republicans are now disfavored and that voter fraud is not a concern that legislatures should focus on,” Cruz continued. “That decision was harmful. It’s going to hurt baseball, but it also underscores that there’s no reason Major League Baseball should enjoy special subsidies, corporate welfare that no one else gets.”
The @MLB has struck a real blow to the city of Atlanta.
It is wrong.
It is hypocritical.
And it needs to stop. pic.twitter.com/IDsfLrr4mD
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) April 13, 2021
The MLB gained special protections against U.S. antitrust law because of a 1922 Supreme Court decision. No other national sports league possesses such protections.
Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) is leading the push on similar legislation in the House to strip the MLB of its protections.
“In light of @MLB’s stance to undermine election integrity laws, I have instructed my staff to begin drafting legislation to remove Major League Baseball’s federal antitrust exception,” Duncan announced on April 2. “An overwhelming bipartisan majority of Americans support requiring an ID to vote, and any organization that abuses its power to oppose secure elections deserves increased scrutiny under the law.”
Earlier that day, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced that the league was pulling events out of Georgia in protest of the election reforms, a decision that sparked widespread backlash against the league. Even some Democrats in Georgia, such as activist Stacey Abrams, spoke out against the move.
“Over the last week, we have engaged in thoughtful conversations with Clubs, former and current players, the Players Association, and The Players Alliance, among others, to listen to their views,” Manfred said. “I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star Game and MLB Draft.”
Days earlier, President Joe Biden publicly pressured the MLB to move its all-star game out of Atlanta, a move that cost the state at least $100 million in lost business.
“I think today’s professional athletes are acting incredibly responsibly. I would strongly support them [moving the all-star game out of Atlanta],” Biden said. “People look to them. They’re leaders.”