Bipartisan Coalition Asks Congress To Modernize Federal Antitrust Laws

New York Attorney General Letitia James continued her work fighting for New York’s consumers and small businesses on Monday, September 20, by calling on federal leaders to provide funding to support state antitrust enforcement efforts. Attorney General James co-leads a bipartisan coalition of 45 attorneys general in sending a letter to congressional leaders requesting the federal government to provide the necessary support to states so that antitrust efforts are not hamstrung as state budgets tighten, many now being exacerbated as the COVID-19 public health crisis continues to ravage state and local economies. 

“All too often we’ve seen powerful firms use their clout to stop competition from gaining a foothold, leaving every day New Yorkers and Americans across the nation to suffer,” said Attorney General James. “States investigate and litigate antitrust matters to ensure that consumers benefit from higher quality, increased innovation, and lower costs — all direct results of increased competition in the market. But these initiatives require massive commitments of resources, which is why we are asking the federal government to partner with us and help fund efforts to support state antitrust enforcement.”

State attorneys general around the country — from both parties — are currently leading cutting edge, resource-intensive antitrust cases against powerful and sophisticated Big Tech firms. Attorney General James is leading a bipartisan coalition of 48 attorneys general in a lawsuit against Facebook for anticompetitive conduct, and is simultaneously co-leading another bipartisan coalition of 38 attorneys general in suing Google on antitrust grounds. Additionally, in 2019, Attorney General James led a coalition of attorneys general in filing an antitrust lawsuit to stop the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint.

These are just some of the examples of the many types of enforcement actions states have and can bring to challenge anticompetitive conduct by major players with vast resources in a variety of industries. Often working closely with federal partners, states bring these enforcement actions in the public interest to protect consumers and the competitive process.

The coalition noted in their letter to the chairs and ranking members of the respective Senate and House committees, that, as the nation’s economy has grown, so too has the need to staff and finance a greater number of antitrust enforcement actions that are fundamentally more complex and resource-intensive than in the past. There is a growing bipartisan consensus that antitrust is at a turning point, and Congress currently is considering a number of bills that would enable more robust enforcement. Whether antitrust investigations and litigation are pursued together with federal partners or in multi-state coalitions they require massive commitments by lawyers and experts, as well as significant technological resources. Congress is already considering additional funding for the federal agencies, but additional funding for state agencies will enhance the states’ ability to fulfill their obligations as integral partners to the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission and as part of Congress’ plan for protecting competition.

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