Klobuchar is the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, released the following statement after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to approve the proposed merger between T-Mobile US, Inc. (T-Mobile) and Sprint Corporation (Sprint) by a 3-2 party line vote. Klobuchar has repeatedly raised antitrust concerns about the proposed merger and has publicly supported the lawsuit brought by 16 states and the District of Columbia to block it.
“I have repeatedly raised serious antitrust concerns about the harmful effects of merging T-Mobile and Sprint, two of the four remaining nationwide wireless carriers. Overwhelming evidence shows that approving this merger will almost certainly hurt competition and consumers and lead to higher prices, worse service, and less innovation. I am hopeful that the lawsuit brought by over a dozen state attorneys general to block the merger will be successful.”
Klobuchar has championed efforts to protect consumers, promote competition, and fight consolidation in several industries including the agriculture, telecommunications, and pharmaceutical industries. In August, Klobuchar sent a letter to the FCC urging the Commission to issue a public notice and seek public comment on the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger in light of the Proposed Final Judgment and a Stipulation and Order (Consent Decree) filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), which made the transaction fundamentally different than what was originally proposed and reviewed by the FCC. The Consent Decree proposed to ensure a competitive market place by replacing Sprint—an established wireless carrier with a history of aggressive pricing—with that of a new carrier created out of Dish, a satellite T.V. company with no existing network—a significant aspect of the merger that the public did not have the opportunity to address. The FCC never responded to the letter and did not seek public input.
In May, Klobuchar and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) led a letter to Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim on potential political interference in the T-Mobile/Sprint merger investigations in response to reports that senior White House officials were attempting to insert their views into the Antitrust Division’s investigation of the merger. The Department of Justice has yet to respond to the letter. In May, Klobuchar joined Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) in sending a letter to FCC Chairman Pai and Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim urging them to reject the merger and seek public input on the merger by opening a 30-day public comment period of T-Mobile and Sprint’s proposed behavioral conditions and voluntary commitments, which were the basis for the FCC’s support of the proposed merger. The FCC responded to the letter, but did not seek public input.
Klobuchar has also called for strong antitrust review and enforcement to protect consumers from mergers that raise prices or harm competition, including Comcast/Time Warner Cable, AT&T/Time Warner Inc., and Anheuser-Busch/Miller-Coors, and consolidation in the agricultural industry and the online travel industry. She has also led the call to protect the independence and integrity of the antitrust enforcement agencies from political interference by the Trump Administration. In January, Klobuchar introduced 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. The bill is cosponsored by Blumenthal, Markey, Booker and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
Klobuchar also introduced the Merger Enforcement Improvement Act to give antitrust enforcement agencies adequate tools and resources to address the threat of economic concentration, promote competition, and protect consumers. The bill would update merger filing fees for the first time since 2001, lowering the burden on small- and medium-sized businesses, and ensuring that larger deals pay their fair share while also raising revenues. It would also provide agencies with better information post-merger to ensure that merger enforcement is meeting its goals. The bill is cosponsored by Markey, Blumenthal, Booker, Gillibrand and Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Angus King (I-VT), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).