By Nathalie Voit
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), on March 16, introduced antitrust legislation aimed at prohibiting mergers valued over $5 billion and overhauling what it dubs the “broken” federal merger-review system under the FTC and the DOJ, according to a press summary of the bill obtained in her website.
The proposed legislation, titled Prohibiting Anticompetitive Mergers Act of 2022, would seek to make illegal mergers worth more than $5 billion or “deals resulting in market shares over 33% for sellers or 25% for employers.” The bill would also tip the balance of power in the merger-review process to federal agencies.
According to Warren, existing merger-review guidelines make prohibiting anticompetitive mergers incredibly difficult and lengthy, resulting in many “harmful” agreements that allow dominant firms to ultimately “crush consumers, workers, and small businesses.” In her release, the Massachusetts senator pointed to the recent examples of Sprint/T-Mobile, Bayer/Monsanto, Facebook/Instagram, and American/US Airways.
“This excessive market power costs American families $5,000 per year on average and has depressed median wages by $10,000,” Warren added. “It has also allowed corporations to jack up prices even further during this period of inflation.”
The suggested legislation aims to address the challenge of unbridled industry consolidation in three key ways. First, the legislation would ban the largest, most anticompetitive mergers (i.e., those worth over $5 billion). Second, the act would overhaul the merger-review system to allow the FTC and the DOJ to reject deals without a court order. Finally, the bill would strengthen the agencies’ tools to break up harmful mergers.
“By empowering our antitrust agencies to tackle consolidation head-on, this bill will promote competition and protect workers, consumers, small or minority-owned businesses (including farms and ranches), local, rural, or low-income communities, communities of color, privacy, and innovation,” Warren said in the press summary of the legislation.
The bill is part of a wider Democratic effort to advance antitrust legislation and crackdown on anticompetitive behavior across various industries, particularly Big Tech.