Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) reintroduced the One Agency Act Tuesday, legislation that would improve antitrust enforcement by putting all antitrust enforcement under one roof, at the Department of Justice. The updated bill will also prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from undertaking duplicative competitive analyses of deals under its purview. It is co-sponsored by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and supported by several outside groups.
“For too long, our two-headed antitrust enforcement system has suffered from bureaucratic in-fighting, delays, redundancies, and inconsistency. Competition is too important to tolerate these problems any longer, especially when they allow sophisticated players to game the system to their own advantage and avoid accountability for engaging in anticompetitive behavior,” Sen. Lee said. “It’s time to right the ship by consolidating and strengthening our antitrust enforcement at the Justice Department. The Department is more politically accountable, and its structure is better suited to the decisive enforcement we need to better protect American consumers.”
“I’m a strong proponent of antitrust enforcement, especially in the case of intellectual property protections,” said Sen. Tillis. “Antitrust has a valuable role to play in ensuring that Big Tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter can’t simply use their market power to steal creators’ content. But our current antitrust enforcement system—split between the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission—simply isn’t working anymore. It hasn’t been for years. For too long, unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats at the FTC have pursued overly partisan enforcement actions which are entirely disconnected from economic reality. It’s past time that antitrust enforcement be handled solely by a politically accountable entity. I am proud to work with my colleagues on this long-overdue bill to ensure proper enforcement of antitrust laws through an improved, more streamlined process.”
Carl Szabo, Vice President & General Counsel of NetChoice, commented, “At a time when populist progressives are threatening to overhaul our bipartisan antitrust consensus, Senator Lee is instead taking a serious approach to fixing real enforcement problems. His proposal would promote the rule of law, save taxpayer dollars, and provide certainty to businesses and consumers while preventing political infighting between federal agencies.”
Randolph May, President of the Free State Foundation, said, “The part of the One Agency Act that prevents the FCC and state public utility commissions from duplicating the Department of Justice’s analysis of a transaction’s competitive effects makes eminent sense. And the bill’s limitations on the FCC’s invocation of its vague ‘public interest’ authority, which the agency often has abused by imposing a multitude of conditions unrelated to any impact resulting from the proposed transaction, would constitute a significant improvement. Together, these two aspects of Senator Lee’s bill would constitute a meaningful reform of the review process applicable to transactions involving communications firms.”
You can read Sen. Lee’s Wall Street Journal op-ed on the One Agency Act here.