Antitrust Law Daily Senate antitrust oversight hearing set for July 23
Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Senate antitrust oversight hearing set for July 23

By Jeffrey May, J.D.

Members of Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee will get an opportunity to question heads of federal antitrust agencies on reported tech sector investigations.

Against a backdrop of House antitrust hearings, reports of agency investigations of tech giants, and calls for Senate probes of antitrust enforcement efforts in the tech sector, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, will hold a subcommittee hearing July 23 on oversight of the enforcement of the antitrust laws.

Last week, Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) issued a statement, responding to news stories discussing potential antitrust investigations of high-tech firms. He contended that such investigations were "best left to the antitrust agencies rather than Congress." At the hearing, Lee will likely question the officials about the "leaks" of the investigations and the apparent decision to divide up the probes between the FTC and Justice Department.

"As the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division are apparently poised to begin investigations into possible antitrust violations by the tech industry, I am interested to learn more about the conduct the agencies will examine and the resources they will require to carry out this mission," Lee said announcing the hearing today. "I also intend to explore how and why the agencies are splitting the review of these tech firms between the two agencies. Given the similarity in competition issues involved, divvying up these investigations is sure to waste resources, split valuable expertise across the agencies, and likely result in divergent antitrust enforcement."

"In the wake of multiple reports that the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission may finally be initiating antitrust investigations into the largest tech firms, it’s critical that we and the American people have a good sense of what the agencies are actually doing to protect competition in this important part of our economy," Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), subcommittee ranking member, said. "But it’s not just about the tech industry, protecting competition is vital to the future of every sector in our economy in every state across our country," added Klobuchar, referencing the multi-state complaint challenging the merger of cell phone carriers T-Mobile US, Inc., and Sprint Corp.

"We need antitrust enforcement that meets the demands of the 21st century economy and enforcement agencies that have the resources and the will to undertake aggressive enforcement whenever and wherever competition is under threat," added Klobuchar. "I look forward to discussing these matters with agency leadership on July 23rd."

The hearing is expected to start at 2:30 PM.

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