April 03, 2020

Congressmen Neguse and Lieu Introduce Legislation to End Price Gouging in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic

The legislation would protect American consumers throughout the current public health emergency and throughout future emergencies

Washington D.C.—Today, Congressman Joe Neguse (CO-02) and Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33) introduced new legislation to prohibit price gouging of consumer goods throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The outbreak of COVID-19 throughout the United States has led to a surge in demand for—and in even shortage of—many essential consumer products, including hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies. While several retailers have taken steps to maintain access to these products, there have been numerous reports of merchants, small and large, taking advantage of the current crisis to prey on consumers by charging outrageous prices for what are usually affordable household staples. The Price Gouging Prevention Act, new legislation from Congressman Neguse, would prohibit such practices throughout the current public health emergency, as well as throughout future national emergencies. The legislation directs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce the ban and is based on a California anti-pricegouging statute, CA Penal Code Section 396, which prohibits raising the price of many consumer goods and services by more than 10% after an emergency has been declared.

“It is unacceptable that Americans across the country have been forced to pay higher prices for basic essentials and supplies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “Absent a coordinated Federal response, I fear many preventative products will continue to be out of reach for American consumers, thereby placing their health and their family’s health at risk. The Price Gouging Prevention Act will not only protect American consumers throughout the duration of the coronavirus public health emergency, but future national emergencies as well.”

“Taking advantage of consumers during a public health emergency is wrong,” said Congressman Ted Lieu. “A lot of large and small businesses are stepping up to produce necessities for our communities and our healthcare workers, but there are still opportunistic merchants trying to make an extra buck on panic. I'm grateful to partner with Rep. Neguse on the Price Gouging Prevention Act, which will protect consumers from being forced to pay astronomical prices for what are ordinarily affordable basic goods and necessities.”

Earlier, Congressman Neguse led a letter, along with Congressman David Cicilline (RI-01), Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (NY-10) and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) urging Attorney General Barr to take action at the Department of Justice to address extensive price gouging. Read the letter here.