Alvaro Bedoya’s FTC confirmation gives Lena Khan a Democratic majority

Eight months for hearings, nominations, health-related delays and VP run-off vote, but Senate confirmation Alvaro Bedoya serves as the fifth commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission. What’s more — and almost certainly why his confirmation was such a long and contentious process — is that he is the third Democrat and will soon be the deciding vote himself.

For most of Khan’s term, the FTC was deadlocked with two Republican commissioners (Noah Phillips and Kristen Wilson) and two Democratic commissioners (Chairmen Lina Khan and Rebecca Kellyslaut). Anything Khan wants to do that requires a committee vote will either have to be supported by at least one Republican, or it won’t happen at all. This will no longer be the case.

“Alvaro’s knowledge, experience and energy will be a great asset to the FTC as we carry out critical work,” Khan said in a statement“Once President Biden’s nomination is finalized, I’m excited to begin working with him and the rest of our commissioners.”

Bedoya came to the FTC from the Georgetown Center for Legal Privacy and Technology, where he was the founding director. He was nominated in September and has been welcomed by privacy advocates.Bedoya in his confirmation hearing Last year, he intended to focus on privacy issues, including data and facial recognition. With no federal consumer privacy laws, the FTC’s powers are limited, but it can still— and have – Going after companies for privacy concerns.

During the hearing, Senate Republicans claimed they were not challenging Bedoya’s privacy stance, but his public tweet. Bedoya tweeted that President Trump is white supremacists Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is “domestic watchdog. During the hearing, Senator Ted Cruz accused Bedoya of being a “left-wing activist, provocateur, bomb-thrower and extremist.” Senator Roger Wick said he believed Bedoya’s “sharp views” meant he couldn’t work with Republican commissioners. Bedoya said the tweets, which he sent as a regular citizen, were in response to what he believed to be harmful government actions. On Tuesday, a day before Bedoya was confirmed, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Bedoya a “stupid choice” and a “bad nomination.”

The problem for Republicans is more likely not Bedoya or his tweets, but that Bedoya has provided the FTC with the Democratic majority it has lacked since Rohit Chopra left in October.Republicans no Exciting Khan’s work at the FTC, to say the least, casts her as a divisive radical progressive who intends to reshape the agency’s approach to antitrust and give it more power than they think it should. The business world is also not a fan of Khan.Lobbying group of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce no secret Problems with her recently sent a letter Senators Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell urged them to delay the Bedoya vote because his confirmation would give Khan a majority. On the other hand, antitrust reform advocates celebrated Bedoya’s confirmation.

“Together with Chairman Lina Khan and Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, we can finally envision an effective FTC that plays a vital role in leveling the playing field and restoring our nation’s economy,” Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance , said in a statement.

The anti-Bedoya side did succeed for a while. Bedoya’s confirmation was greatly delayed. It took so long for the Senate to confirm Bedoya that he had to renominate earlier this year. When it became clear that no Republicans would vote for Bedoya, Schumer had to wait until every Democratic senator and Vice President Harris were there to vote for him. Previous attempts were thwarted when Senator Ben Ray Luhan suffered a stroke and then tested positive for Covid-19 on several occasions for the Democratic senator and vice president. On May 11, Bedoya was confirmed 51-50.

That’s not to say the FTC has done nothing in the past seven months of stalemate.The agency unanimously agreed to block Mass merger Semiconductor chip companies Nvidia and ARM and merge Between Lockheed Martin and Aerojet. Khan has been able to advance things that don’t require agency votes, and if they did, they probably wouldn’t get votes from Republican commissioners.

sweat could not To get a vote on the pharmacy benefit manager study, she said “Disappointed“She. And the FTC no action Amazon – MGM merged before it closed, many of which expect it Given Khan’s history of criticizing Amazon for allegedly anti-competitive behavior.

Bedoya is going into an agency that appears to have some internal issues.There were squabbles within the committee, one of which: Wilson had make Do not secret Her distaste for Khan’s leadership and antitrust enforcement.but a recent survey It also shows that during Khan’s brief tenure, agency employees’ trust and respect for senior leaders plummeted. The FTC told Recode that the investigation was conducted at a time of significant change at the FTC and that Khan had “great respect” for FTC staff and was “committed to ensuring that the FTC continues to be a great place to work.”

As far as the Republican commissioners are concerned, however, there is reason to believe they get along better with Bedoya than with Khan.Last November, Wilson tweet She “would be really happy to welcome” him and his knowledge of privacy, adding that “he’s a really nice guy and I love interacting with him!” Phillips said last september Bedoya will be a “bright and thoughtful voice”.

With Bedoya on board, Khan can look forward to running the FTC as it did last summer when it had three Democratic commissioners — certainly the way she’s envisioned it since she became its chairman. During this period, the agency successfully refiled its lawsuit against Meta with Wilson and Phillips. vote against it. Khan no longer has to satisfy the appetite of any Republican commissioner. The Amazon-MGM merger may be over, but it could still be challenged.

Perhaps Bedoya will keep her word and work to improve consumer data privacy.Khan has signaled The FTC will focus on data privacy — and it’s getting a lot of attention recent attention According to the news Roe v Wade May be overturned – both a consumer protection issue and a competition issue. That should make big tech companies nervous, whose power comes largely from the data they collect.

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