WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, announced that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Antitrust Division were allocated critical additional funds for fiscal year 2021.
The FTC will get $351 million, a $20 million increase over what it received in fiscal year 2020. The DOJ’s Antitrust Division will get $184.5 million, nearly $18 million more than the previous year.
“We have a major monopoly problem in this country, which harms consumers and threatens competition across our economy. The agencies tasked with fighting this growing problem need adequate resources,” Klobuchar said. “As enforcement demands rise with an endless stream of increasingly complex mergers and major monopolization cases at both the FTC and the Justice Department, we can no longer continue to hold agency funding flat. These additional appropriations are a good start, but the agencies need more support if we want them to hold powerful and sophisticated companies accountable. In the next Congress, I will continue to work to get the agencies the resources they need to adequately promote competition.”
Klobuchar has long advocated for increased budgets for agencies that handle antitrust enforcement. In June 2019, Klobuchar and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure that antitrust authorities have the resources they need to protect consumers. The Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act would update merger filing fees for the first time since 2001, lower the burden on small and medium-sized businesses, ensure larger deals bring in more income, and raise enough revenue so that taxpayer dollars aren’t required to fund necessary increases to agency enforcement budgets.
In March 2020, Klobuchar introduced the Anticompetitive Exclusionary Conduct Prevention Act which prohibits anticompetitive exclusionary conduct. It also makes reforms to improve antitrust enforcement across the board. The bill was cosponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Cory Booker (D-NJ).
In August 2019, Klobuchar introduced the Monopolization Deterrence Act to crack down on monopolies that violate antitrust law. The legislation would give the DOJ and FTC the authority to seek civil penalties for monopolization offenses under the antitrust laws, a power they currently do not have. The bill is cosponsored by Senators Blumenthal, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Ed Markey (D-MA).
Klobuchar leads the Consolidation Prevention and Competition Promotion Act to restore the original purpose of the Clayton Antitrust Act to promote competition and protect American consumers. The bill would strengthen the current legal standard to help stop harmful consolidation that may materially lessen competition. It would clarify that a merger could violate the statute if it gives a company “monopsony” power to unfairly lower the prices it pays or wages it offers because of lack of competition among buyers or employers. The bill further strengthens the law to guard against harmful “mega-mergers” and deals that substantially increase market concentration, shifting the burden to the merging companies to prove that their consolidation does not harm competition.
She also introduced the Merger Enforcement Improvement Act which would update existing law to reflect the current economy and provide agencies with better information post-merger to ensure that merger enforcement is meeting its goals. This bill would modernize antitrust enforcement by improving the agencies’ ability to assess the impact of merger settlements, requiring studies of new issues, adjusting merger filing fees to reflect the 21st century economy, and providing adequate funding for antitrust agencies to meet their obligations to protect American consumers.