The Federal Trade Commission finally has the power to move forward with its progressive enforcement and policy agenda after the Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s nominee to the fifth commissioner seat on Wednesday.
The Senate voted to confirm Alvaro Bedoya 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.
The vote breaks a deadlock between the two Democratic and two Republican commissioners on the FTC, which is chaired by progressive antitrust academic Lina Khan, paving the way to move forward with its most ambitious agenda items. That could include an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, which the agency has reportedly probed. It could also include rulemaking on digital privacy and a narrower view of which mergers to approve, as the agency reviews major deals including Microsoft’s planned purchase of game maker Activision Blizzard.
The vote comes months after Biden first nominated Bedoya in September. The founding director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law faced dogged criticism from Republicans on the Senate Commerce Committee over his past tweets, including a retweet comparing the 2016 Republican National Convention to a white supremacist rally, and a tweet where he called Immigration and Customs Enforcement “An out-of-control domestic surveillance agency that peers into all our lives.”
As a result, the committee deadlocked twice on the question of whether to recommend his nomination to the full Senate.
At the beginning of Khan’s term as chair, the commission had a full slate of five, including three Democrats — the max allowed from any one party at one time. But since former FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra was confirmed to a new role leading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency has consisted of just two commissioners from each party.
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