Companion legislation to Klobuchar’s Senate bill introduced today in the House of Representatives by Representative Emanuel Cleaver
As consumers across the country have reported facing exorbitant prices from some sellers during the coronavirus outbreak, The Disaster and Emergency Pricing Abuse Prevention Act would prohibit the sale of essential goods and services at excessive prices during, or in anticipation of a natural disaster, pandemic, or state of emergency
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) legislation to prohibit price gouging during crises was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO). As consumers across the country have reported facing exorbitant prices from some sellers during the coronavirus outbreak, the Disaster and Emergency Pricing Abuse Prevention Act would prohibit the sale of essential goods and services at excessive prices during, or in anticipation of a natural disaster, pandemic, or state of emergency. In March, Klobuchar introduced the legislation in the Senate with Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV).
“The coronavirus pandemic has put incredible stress on consumers and we must make sure that they can afford essential goods and services,” Klobuchar said. “The Disaster and Emergency Pricing Abuse Prevention Act would help ensure that people are not taken advantage of and that price gouging is prohibited during a state of emergency like now. All consumers should have access to the products and services they need to protect their families at fair, uninflated prices.”
“We often try to hammer down on price gouging as it is ongoing during a catastrophe,” Cleaver said. “Whether it’s a pandemic or a hurricane, national emergencies are going to happen, and scammers will try to profit from them. Therefore, we need a law that protects consumers from predatory price gougers who pop up during times of turmoil, instead of playing whack-a-mole every time a crisis emerges. I want to thank Senator Klobuchar for her leadership on this common sense bill and working with me to protect American consumers from exorbitant prices on critical supplies during this pandemic, as well as any other crisis that may arise in the future.”
The Disaster and Emergency Pricing Abuse Prevention Act would:
- Prohibit selling, or offering for sale, essential goods and services at an unconscionably excessive price during, or in anticipation of, a natural disaster, pandemic or state of emergency.
- Presume prices are unconscionable if the crisis price exceeds the pre-crisis price by more than 20%, unless the price increase is a product of an increase in the seller’s costs.
- Apply to goods and services that may be used to preserve, protect, or sustain the health, safety or welfare of members of the public from potential harms resulting from a natural disaster, a pandemic or the circumstances giving rise to a state of emergency.
- Provide for potential civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation and injunctions.
- Does not preempt state price gouging laws.
This week, Klobuchar and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to take vigorous action to stop price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter to Attorney General William Barr the senators urged DOJ to vigorously enforce Executive Order 13910, which was issued to help prevent hoarding and price gouging of scarce medical supplies, and to request information about the Department’s current and planned efforts to address this problem.
In March, Klobuchar also called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to use the full extent of its authority to prevent abusive price gouging on consumer health products during the coronavirus pandemic.