U.S. Federal Trade Commission hearings exposed differences in Biden administration’s antitrust promotion

U.S. Federal Trade Commission update

Republican members of the Federal Trade Commission criticized that the Biden administration made a radical change in the way the agency operated when it tried to modify U.S. competition policy.

Noah Phillips and Christine Wilson, two Republicans on the Committee of Five, said at a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday that the recent FTC reforms have reduced the committee’s responsibilities.

“In the past few weeks, the committee has repeatedly changed its policy direction, without giving the public any real notice or right to comment, and without any serious consideration, canceling the guidance of the public and the business community,” Phillips said. “We can do better.”

Wilson said: “In recent weeks, long-standing norms and procedures have been abandoned. Practitioners, academics, and former law enforcement officials in the political field have expressed concerns about the agency’s sudden departure from conventional order. I have these concerns too.”

The Democrats in Washington recently developed a blueprint to show how they intend to subvert decades of consensus on competition regulation and make it easier for the Federal Trade Commission and the federal regulators of the U.S. Department of Justice to challenge corporate power concentrated in large companies.

Since taking office last month, Lina Khan, the new FTC chairman of the Democratic Party and a well-known critic of large technology companies, has begun to reform the way the regulatory agency operates, including opening committee meetings, and giving the committee a broader scope of authority to track down Fair approach company. competition.

The decision of the public meeting triggered a particularly strong response from two Republican members. They said that they felt weak in discussing sensitive decisions with their Democratic counterparts.

President Joe Biden signed a Executive order Earlier this month, the FTC granted FTC considerable power to formulate its vision. The president encouraged the committee to develop a series of new rules, including preventing companies from preventing their employees from turning to competitors and prohibiting large pharmaceutical companies from paying generic drug manufacturers to keep them away from specific markets for a period of time.

Some legal experts have warned that if the FTC participates in a new set of rulemaking, it may exceed its legal authority-Phillips said he has the same concerns.

“a lot of [the president’s order] Consumer-driven market forces will be replaced by government-supervised regulation, which is the opposite of competition,” Phillips said. “And most of it seems to be based on authority that we don’t have at all. “

Democrat Rohit Chopra (Rohit Chopra) also called on Congress to review a law that allows FTC staff to be paid by outside organizations to the meeting. They sometimes participate in meetings that are not open to the public or the media. group discussion.

Chopra said: “Small businesses and the general public cannot easily access these private group intermediaries, nor do they organize resources to ensure equal access and fairness.”

In separate statement For the committee, the entire committee complained about the restrictions it faced in tracing companies such as Facebook because of past behavior.

The FTC’s complaint against Facebook is Fired last month, The judge criticized the committee’s decision to pursue the social media company’s long-term acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. If the FTC decides to continue the case in federal court, it must file a revised complaint before August 19.

In addition, on Wednesday, a group of state attorneys led by Letitia James from New York announced that they are appealing the decision of the same judge and dismissing their lawsuit against Facebook.

Additional reporting by Hannah Murphy

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