Antitrust Law Daily Senate confirms Lina Khan for vacant FTC seat
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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Senate confirms Lina Khan for vacant FTC seat

By Jeffrey May, J.D.

With growing bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for reining in ‘big tech,’ the nomination of the vocal critic of dominant tech firms gets approved by a 69-28 vote.

Lina Khan, an associate law professor at Columbia, has been confirmed to serve as an FTC commissioner. Today, the Senate voted 69-28 in her favor. Khan is a critic of "big tech" and has been described as a member of the "hipster antitrust movement." Yet she was able to win some support from Republicans in the evenly divided Senate. When Khan's nomination to the FTC was floated earlier this year, Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah), ranking member on the Senate antitrust subcommittee, called the reports "deeply concerning." Lee had questioned her experience and her views on antitrust enforcement.

Khan fills a vacancy on the FTC, created by the departure of FTC Chairman Joseph Simons. Simons departed around the time of the Biden inauguration. Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter stepped into the role as acting chair of the agency. That left four commissioners, with two Democrats and two Republicans. With Khan on the Commission, there will be a Democrat majority. However, the Senate will likely now move forward with the confirmation of FTC Commissioner Chopra to serve as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Having Khan on board and having Chopra depart will bring the number of Democrats and Republicans on the Commission back to an even two-two split. Biden has yet to name a nominee to serve as the chair of the Commission.

Khan was nominated on March 22. Her nomination hearing was held on April 21. She was approved by the Senate commerce committee on May 12 in a voice vote, with four of the 12 Republicans on the Committee voting against.

Career highlights. Khan came onto the antitrust stage with her 2017 Yale Law Journal article, "Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox." Khan is a 2017 graduate of Yale Law School and is an associate professor there currently. Khan was a director–legal policy at the Open Markets Institute (Open Markets) and has served as counsel to the House antitrust subcommittee where she worked on the committee report on competition in digital markets. She also served as legal adviser Commissioner Chopra.

Chopra statement. "The overwhelming support in the Senate for Lina Khan’s nomination to serve on the Federal Trade Commission is a big win for fair competition in our country," said Chopra in response to the confirmation. "There is a growing consensus that the FTC must turn the page on the failed policies spanning multiple administrations. Lina has an extraordinary record of achievement, and she will be instrumental in helping the Commission chart a new course grounded in rigor and reality."

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