As Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, Klobuchar highlighted the urgent need for effective antitrust enforcement to ensure the health of the growing digital sector
WASHINGTON – Today, at a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights on digital platforms, Ranking Member Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) called for enhanced scrutiny of acquisitions of startups by large digital platforms. In a hearing with the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Director of the Bureau of Competition, Bruce Hoffman and other witnesses, Klobuchar highlighted the urgent need for effective antitrust enforcement to ensure the health of the growing digital sector.
“Although concerns with Big Tech go beyond competition—into privacy, election security, content moderation, and other areas—effective antitrust enforcement has a crucial role to play. Competition lowers prices, improves quality, and spurs innovation. Make no mistake, if digital giants use strategic acquisitions to snuff out emerging or potential future competitors, the harms may not be as obvious, but they are no less damaging or enduring in the long run,” Klobuchar said.
“That is why competition enforcement is critical to the future of the digital sector. Open, competitive markets are what allowed these digital platforms to grow and thrive—we must ensure that the next generation of American technology firms have the same opportunities.”
For video footage of Klobuchar’s remarks, click HERE.
In her role as Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, Klobuchar has championed efforts to protect consumers, promote competition, and fight consolidation in several industries including the telecommunications, agriculture, and pharmaceutical industries.
Last week, in light of ongoing consolidation in the pharmaceutical sector, Klobuchar led a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons calling on the agency to closely scrutinize pharmaceutical mergers that raise competition issues. In the letter, Klobuchar and her colleagues raised concerns about the potential impact of these proposed transactions on pharmaceutical innovation and the potential harm to consumers that may come from the increased negotiating leverage of merging companies. The senators also urged the FTC to take all necessary steps to ensure that the terms of any consent decrees under which pharmaceutical mergers are allowed to proceed are effective in addressing threats to competition.
In August, 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. In June, she led efforts to obtain details about possible FTC antitrust investigations into Amazon and Facebook and possible Justice Department antitrust investigations into Google and Apple. In the letters, the senators requested information regarding the existence and scope of the potential investigations.
Klobuchar has also been an outspoken voice in opposing anticompetitive mergers and has introduced legislation to help prevent them. In June, Klobuchar and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced new 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.
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. Klobuchar introduced both bills in February.