May 07, 2020

Neguse, Warren, Harris and Lieu Call for Price Gouging Measures to Be Included in Next COVID-19 Stimulus Package

Washington D.C.— Today, Congressman Neguse, along with Congressman Ted Lieu, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senator Kamala Harris, sent a letter to House and Senate leadership calling for provisions from the Price Gouging Prevention Act to be included in the next COVID-19 stimulus package. The legislation, introduced by the group a few weeks ago protects against price gouging during health emergencies and natural disasters by establishing a bright-line rule against price increases of 10 percent or higher on essential consumer goods.

The letter—addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy—noted “a surge in reports of companies and individuals exploiting the current crisis to prey on consumers by charging outrageous prices for affordable household staples like cleaning supplies, masks, and hand sanitizer.” While there are several state laws prohibiting price gouging in emergencies, a federal standard is necessary to invoke the power of federal regulators. 

“The lack of a federal standard inhibits federal regulators from playing a robust role in enforcement that would fill critical gaps in state laws and support state efforts,” reads the letter. “The Price Gouging Prevention Act would establish a bright-line rule against price increases of 10 percent or higher on essential consumer goods and empower the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and State Attorneys General to enforce the prohibition.”

Research conducted by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund has found rampant price gouging of items such as hand sanitizer, masks and disinfectant wipes during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Read the full letter here.