By Jody Coultas, J.D.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has announced that he is choosing to give up the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee in January to take up the chairman position the Finance Committee being vacated by retiring Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). Under Senate Republican Conference rules, he still has eligibility to serve as chairman for another two years.
During his four hears as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Grassley has sponsored numerous antitrust bills and pushed the antitrust agencies to investigate potentially anticompetitive conduct in a variety of markets. Senator Grassley has focused on protections for whistleblowers, mergers and competition, especially in the agricultural industry, and anticompetitive "pay-for-delay" deals in the pharmaceutical industry.
In November, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act of 2017 (S. 807), a bill sponsored by Senator Grassley that would heighten protections for whistleblowers who report antitrust violations. "Since we’re willing to incentivize folks to report their own bad behavior, then we ought to protect whistleblowers who report on the bad behavior of others," said Senator Grassley. Senator Grassley also sponsored the "Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules (SMARTER) Act" (S. 2847), legislation intended to align the procedures used by the FTC, FCC, and the Department of Justice Antitrust Division in challenging unconsummated acquisitions and mergers. In 2017, Senator Grassley was one of the co-sponsors of "The Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples (CREATES) Act", would deter pharmaceutical companies from blocking cheaper generic alternatives from entering the marketplace. Twice Senator Grassley introduced legislation to amend the Packers and Stockyards Act to make it unlawful for a packer to own, feed, or control livestock intended for slaughter, in order to ensure that family farmers and independent producers receive fair prices for their efforts.
Senator Grassley urged the Justice Department Antitrust Division in August to conduct a vigorous review of the proposed mergers of Cigna Corp. with Express Scripts Holding Co., and CVS Health Corp. with Aetna Inc. "to ensure that competitive markets in the pharmaceutical supply chain are not impacted adversely." Senator Grassley asked the FTC to investigate whether certain provisions in contracts between health providers and health insurers are anticompetitive and deliberately designed to prevent consumers’ access to quality, lower cost care, and to investigate "pay-for-delay" deals related to biologic medicines. Prior to their approval by the Justice Department, Senator Grassley expressed concern over the mergers of Dow Chemical and DuPont and Tyson Foods, Inc. and The Hillshire Brands Company.
With regard to the possibility of serving as Judiciary Committee Chairman in the next congress, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the next senior ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee after Sen. Grassley and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), said, "If I am fortunate enough to be selected by my colleagues to serve as Chairman, I will push for the appointment and Senate confirmation of highly qualified conservative judges to the federal bench and aggressive oversight of the Department of Justice and FBI. Finally, I will continue to seek common sense, bipartisan solutions to major issues facing our nation."
Senator Grassley has served as a senator for Iowa since 1980, and has been on the Judiciary Committee every year that he served in the Senate. With Senator Hatch’s retirement, Senator Grassley will take over as Senate pro tem.
MainStory: TopStory Antitrust AcquisitionsMergers
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