June 11, 2021

Congressman Neguse Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Ensure Antitrust Authorities Have the Resources They Need to Protect Consumers

The bill is part of a comprehensive package released by the Antitrust Subcommittee today for a stronger online economy

Washington D.C.— Today, Congressman Joe Neguse, a member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law introduced the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act to ensure antitrust authorities have the resources they need to protect consumers. The legislation is cosponsored by House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Representatives Ken Buck (R-CO), Victoria Spartz (R-IN), David Cicilline (D-RI), and Chip Roy (R-TX). The bill is one of five bipartisan bills drafted by lawmakers on the Antitrust Subcommittee, which last year completed a 16-month investigation into the state of competition in the digital marketplace and the unregulated power wielded by Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. “A Stronger Online Economy: Opportunity, Innovation, Choice” is the most aggressive bipartisan effort in recent memory to strengthen America’s antitrust laws. 

Congressman Neguse’s bill, 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. To ensure this legislation is a permanent solution to the outdated fee structure and not a one-time fix, the filing fees will be linked to increases in the Producer Price Index going forward.

“In America, competition is central to economic growth and innovation, and when companies engage in anti-competitive tactics it harms consumers, entrepreneurs and our ability to compete globally,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “I’m proud to help unveil today’s bipartisan legislative agenda for a stronger online economy, a comprehensive set of bills that will expand opportunities for consumers, workers and small businesses by strengthening antitrust enforcement and addressing anti-competitive practices in the digital economy and beyond. As a former regulator and leader of Colorado’s consumer protection agency, I know how critical it is for our enforcement agencies to have the necessary resources to do their job. That is why, as part of today’s package, I am introducing the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act, bipartisan legislation which will update merger filing fees for the first time in over a decade, ensuring that parties to larger mergers pay their fair share and consumers don’t have to foot the bill for these necessary and long-overdue increases to antitrust agency enforcement budgets. Congress has a vital role to play to ensure that markets are working in a way that benefits consumers, small businesses, innovation and our democracy. Today’s legislative action is a critical first step in that process.”
 

“Increased market power in several segments of our economy is harming consumers in their pocketbooks. The Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act will help ensure that the federal government has the resources it needs to oversee mergers, protect consumers, and support increased competition. This legislation is one of several measures needed to revitalize antitrust enforcement. I thank Congressman Neguse for his leadership in championing this issue,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.

Premerger filing fees have not changed since 2001 despite the steady march of inflation, and the current fee structure places too heavy a burden on smaller deals and too small a fee on larger deals. The fee for a $900 million deal should not be the same as the fee for a $60 billion deal. And despite the massive increase in merger filings in the last five years and public calls for action to protect competition, funding for enforcement authorities has stagnated.

The other bills included in the “A Stronger Online Economy: Opportunity, Innovation, Choice” agenda include: 

  • The American Innovation and Choice Online Act to prohibit discriminatory conduct by dominant platforms, including a ban on self-preferencing and picking winners and losers online. The bill is sponsored by Chairman Cicilline and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Lance Gooden (TX-05).
  • The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act prohibits acquisitions of competitive threats by dominant platforms, as well acquisitions that expand or entrench the market power of online platforms. The bill is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) and co-sponsored by Ranking Member Ken Buck.
  • The Ending Platform Monopolies Act eliminates the ability of dominant platforms to leverage their control over across multiple business lines to self-preference and disadvantage competitors in ways that undermine free and fair competition. The bill is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Lance Gooden (TX-05).
  • The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act promotes competition online by lowering barriers to entry and switching costs for businesses and consumers through interoperability and data portability requirements. This bill is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05) and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Burgess Owens (UT-04).

Background:

Through his role on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, Congressman Neguse has played a leading role in advocating for proper antitrust enforcement. As part of the Subcommittee's investigation into anti-competitive behaviors in the digital marketplace, Congressman Neguse brought the Committee to Boulder, Colorado for a field hearing in January 2019. In the 116th Congress, Neguse introduced and enacted two antitrust enforcement measures into law, which would protect antitrust whistleblowers and reauthorize a critical antitrust enforcement program. Following the conclusion of the Subcommittee’s big tech investigation, Congressman Neguse has called for a similar investigation into Big Pharma, in particular an examination of the FTC’s oversight of mergers for the pharmaceutical industry. 

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