Goodlatte, Marino, Farenthold Applaud FTC’s Decision to Streamline Antitrust Laws
Washington D.C.— House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law Subcommittee Chairman Tom Marino (R-Pa.), and Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law Subcommittee Vice-Chairman Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) applaud the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) action today to adopt a reform contained in the Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act (SMARTER Act) that ensures fairness for all businesses by streamlining the standards for mergers and acquisitions.
Specifically, the FTC voted to approve a rule that would limit significantly its ability to initiate administrative litigation against a proposed merger following a denial of an FTC injunction request against the merger in federal court. Although it is a promising step forward, the rule is not permanent, can be waived in extreme circumstances, can be withdrawn by the FTC, and does not harmonize the preliminary injunction standards applied to the Justice Department and the FTC. Given the temporary nature of the FTC’s action, Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law Subcommittee Vice-Chairman Blake Farenthold announced plans today to reintroduce the SMARTER Act together with the Chairman of the Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law Subcommittee, Tom Marino, and Chairman of the Full Committee, Bob Goodlatte.
Under existing antitrust law, the FTC and DOJ face different standards in court and utilize different processes when seeking to prevent a proposed merger or acquisition. The SMARTER Act permanently eliminates these disparities and ensures that companies face the same standards and processes regardless of which federal agency reviews the proposed transaction. The SMARTER Act was approved by the House Judiciary Committee last year by voice vote. This year, Senators Lee and Hatch plan on introducing companion legislation in the Senate.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, Subcommittee Chairman Tom Marino, and Subcommittee Vice-Chairman Blake Farenthold issued the following statement on the FTC’s action and the planned introduction of the SMARTER Act:
“We are pleased that the Federal Trade Commission has implemented a commonsense change contained in the SMARTER Act that streamlines our nation’s antitrust laws. Under existing law, the rules for reviewing a merger or acquisition differ depending on whether the FTC or the Justice Department reviews the merger. Although the FTC has taken a step today to address the disparities in the merger review process, the rule does not go far enough and there is still more work to be done. This reform needs to be made permanent so that it is not subject to discretion or the whims of an ever-changing agency.
“One of the responsibilities of the Judiciary Committee is to ensure fairness and consistency in the enforcement of our nation’s antitrust laws. We plan to soon reintroduce the SMARTER Act to permanently reduce the disparities in the merger review process and ensure that companies face the same standards and processes regardless of whether the FTC or Justice Department reviews the merger. The SMARTER Act implements the reforms recommended by the bi-partisan Antitrust Modernization Commission to make merger review fairer and more straightforward – as it should be. We look forward to working with our colleagues in both the Senate and the House to make this legislation the law of the land.”