Consumer Reports joined 36 other organizations in a letter calling on members of the United States House of Representatives to vote “yes” on the bipartisan and bicameral Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act of 2022.
Sumit Sharma, senior researcher for tech competition at Consumer Reports said, “It is great to see this bipartisan effort to bolster the capabilities of our antitrust agencies. Consumers depend on these agencies to ensure markets are fair, competitive, and responsive to their needs. It is crucial that we adequately fund our agencies to keep up with our growing and increasingly complex economy and to play a role in shaping the modern marketplace.”
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy:
We are writing to urge you to vote “yes” on H.R. 3843, the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act of 2022. This bill will strengthen enforcement of our antitrust laws by helping to inject much-needed funds to the antitrust enforcement agencies, the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission, and allow them to properly fulfill their role safeguarding the economy and consumers from anticompetitive conduct and harmful mergers. We task our antitrust enforcers with a duty to protect us, and it is only right we give them adequate resources to do so.
This legislation contains a package of important bipartisan and bicameral proposals:
Title I: Modernizing Merger Filing Fee Collections: The parties to a merger over a certain size pay a nominal fee to the agencies when they seek merger review and this will remain the case after the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act. The current fee structure is outdated; it has not kept pace with the growth of the economy or with inflation. The number of mergers has skyrocketed: notifications doubled from 2010 to 2020. The bipartisan, bicameral Merger Filing Fees Modernization Act would lower fees for the smallest mergers. Fees would be raised on only the very largest mergers or acquisitions involving companies that can easily and equitably pay the increase. The bill also indexes the fees to inflation, to help them keep up with a growing economy over time.
Additionally, the bill contains a reporting requirement, so Congress will have information on how the bill has affected agency budgets and its overall efficacy in strengthening sound and effective enforcement of our antitrust laws.
Title II: Disclosure of Subsidies by Foreign Adversaries: This will require merger notification filings to include information about any subsidies the merging parties have received from countries or entities that are “strategic or economic threats to the United States.”
Title III: Venue for State Antitrust Enforcement: This bill would give state attorneys general the same ability that federal antitrust enforcers have to stay in the court of their choosing when bringing a federal antitrust suit rather than have a defendant seek to move a case to a more favorable venue.
While we believe much more must be done this year, this bipartisan, bicameral legislation represents a critical first step for Congress to reverse the course of lax antitrust enforcement that has proved to be destructive to small businesses, workers, communities, and innovation. While we continue to support the broader antitrust reforms put forward in the House and Senate, we recognize that antitrust enforcers should urgently have the resources they need, and it is imperative that the legislative package included in H.R. 3843 move forward in the House.
This carefully crafted bill is bipartisan and not controversial. Enacting it now will give a much-needed funding boost to antitrust enforcement and the open, vibrant marketplace it promotes and protects, benefitting us all: consumers, workers, entrepreneurs, and communities. We ask you to vote yes on H.R. 3843, the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act of 2022.
Read the full letter here.