Representative Keith Ellison introduced legislation that would require the antitrust agencies to review consummated mergers to analyze the potential harmful effects tie-ups have on local economies and jobs.
A new House bill that Ellison introduced on Wednesday, December 6, would require the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice to conduct annual retrospective studies of how mergers impact prices, jobs, wages, and local economies. Right now, “the sole question regulators ask is whether a merger will be beneficial for consumers in terms of more choice, better quality products, or lower prices,” a legacy of legendary federal judge Robert Bork’s philosophy on antitrust, said Democratic California representative Ro Khanna, a bill co-sponsor.
Recent mergers that would qualify for study include Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods, Walgreens’ purchase of its competitor Rite Aid, and the merging of chemical companies Dow and DuPont, which also make chemical-resistant genetically modified seeds. Mergers that occurred no earlier than three years before the bill’s passage, if it becomes law, will be considered.
The Merger Retrospective Act is the first bill to come out of the “Antitrust Caucus” — a group that includes, besides Ellison and Khanna, Democratic representatives David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, and Rick Nolan of Minnesota, all of whom co-sponsored the bill along with Washington’s Pramila Jayapal.