The Consolidation Prevention and Competition Promotion Act of 2017 will strengthen our antitrust laws to protect competition and prevent consolidation
New legislation would provide tools to target mergers that hurt consumers, stifle opportunities for business competition, and impede innovation
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, has introduced legislation, the Consolidation Prevention and Competition Promotion Act of 2017, which would restore the original purpose of our antitrust laws to promote competition and protect American consumers. The bill would clarify that mergers that increase consumer prices, lower the quality of goods, exclude competitors, undermine innovation, or allow a company to unfairly lower the prices it pays can be illegal. The bill further strengthens the Clayton Antitrust Act to guard against harmful “mega-mergers,” shifting the burden to the merging companies to prove that their consolidation does not harm competition. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) are cosponsors of the bill.
“We’ve been seeing less and less competition in so many – too many – parts of the American economy. As Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, I’m working to put a stop to this now,” Klobuchar said. “American consumers and workers deserve a better deal. By strengthening antitrust enforcement, we can protect people from harmful mergers that threaten competition, drive up costs for consumers, and limit innovation and economic opportunity.”
“For too long, huge corporations have been allowed to merge together, eliminate competition, and drive down wages for their hardworking employees with very little pushback or consequences,” Gillibrand said. “Congress needs to move quickly to prevent unfair mergers and stop huge corporations from preying on their employees. I am proud to sponsor this bill, and I will continue doing everything I can to make sure businesses can compete on a level playing field and New Yorkers and all Americans can have access to good-paying jobs.”
“Consumers today need more choice and competition, not more consolidation of colossal companies. This bill helps protect the public from harmful mergers by better evaluating the effects these deals will have on competition and prices. I look forward to working with Senator Klobuchar and the rest of my Senate colleagues to pass this important legislation,” Markey said.
“The Consolidation Prevention and Competition Promotion Act updates antitrust laws to adapt to the 21st century economy, giving law enforcers the tools they need to crack down on excessive corporate consolidation. Industries essential to American consumers are increasingly concentrated by mergers that curb choice and threaten innovation. Such extreme consolidation drives up prices and drives down quality, all while harming workers and strangling innovation. Congress must act now to rebuild an economy that works for everyone – not just a few corporate behemoths,” Blumenthal said.
The Consolidation Prevention and Competition Promotion Act of 2017 will:
- Restore the original purpose of the antitrust laws to prevent anticompetitive mergers.
- Shift the burden of proof for “mega-mergers” to the consolidating parties to prove that their merger does not harm competition.
- Add the term “monopsony” to the Clayton Antitrust Act, so single buyers controlling the market are also illegal.
- Create an Office of the Competition Advocate to help consumers with complaints, encourage antitrust investigations, and analyze and publish reports on merger activity.
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 agriculture, telecommunications, and pharmaceutical industry. She has led the fight against anticompetitive conduct in the pharmaceutical industry that increase prescription drug prices, including authoring multiple pieces of legislation such as the Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act to prevent abusive tactics that prevent affordable drugs from entering the market and the bipartisan Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act to crack down on anti-competitive pay-offs in which branded companies pay their generic competitors not to compete as part of a patent settlement. She has called for strong antitrust review and enforcement to protect consumers from mergers that raise prices or harm competition, including the 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 administration.