RANKING MEMBER CORREA DELIVERS OPENING STATEMENT IN SUBCOMMITTEE HEARING: “OVERSIGHT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ANTITRUST DIVISION”
Watch Today’s Hearing HERE
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Ranking Member Correa (CA-46), the top Democrat on the House Administrative State, Regulatory Reform, and Antitrust Subcommittee, led his Democratic colleagues during a hearing entitled “Oversight of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division" to examine the mission and programs of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.
You can watch today’s hearing HERE.
You will find below Ranking Member Correa’s opening statement, as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, Chairman Massie for holding today’s hearing with Assistant Attorney General Kanter on Oversight of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division.
The United States’ GDP is soaring, and unemployment remains below four percent but still many average Americans are struggling.
That’s why I am pleased to welcome Assistant Attorney General Kanter today to discuss the Antitrust Division’s efforts to ensure workers are paid fairly, small businesses can succeed, and consumers are protected from artificially inflated prices.
Your efforts have helped working families in America and California.
It’s also important that Congress and DOJ work to ensure that small businesses thrive, which we can do by assuring an even playing field by minimizing anti-competitive forces hindering innovation or opportunity because consumers benefit from a competitive market.
From Mr. Kanter’s written testimony, DOJ has had many successes.
For example, DOJ won a verdict against fraudsters who illegally obtained more than $240 million in contracts intended for small businesses run by disabled veterans.
The DOJ also secured two guilty pleas of bid-rigging and bribery with contracts granted by the CA Department of Transportation, ensuring small businesses have a fair chance of winning government contracts.
In generic drug prices, DOJ reached deferred prosecution agreements against two generic drug manufacturers, requiring them to pay criminal penalties of $250 million, and to divest drug lines at the center of the misconduct. This kind of action brings down costs of drugs for patients benefits all Americans and for Californians back home.
Consumers are paying too much at the grocery stores, so I applaud the DOJ's efforts to stop anticompetitive practices that lead to inflated food prices for American families. Back home, California families have been paying way too much for groceries, including chicken, pork, and turkey at the grocery store.
The Antitrust Division’s efforts have benefitted many Americans by uplifting them and leveling the playing field for businesses, entrepreneurs, and ultimately customers. I strongly support efforts to bolster competition and innovation, but I do have concerns.
DOJ has the expertise and the primary authority to pursue antitrust enforcement together with FTC, while gaining industry expertise from other federal agencies.
In the airline industry, as both DOJ and DOT have long agreed, DOJ is the lead enforcement agency. I want to flag that I am concerned that DOT has indicated that it may ignore decades of precedent and Congressional intent and attempt to block mergers or acquisitions when the DOJ decides to not pursue legal action or fails to secure a verdict in court.
I fear that if the DOJ supports DOT’ efforts to become the enforcer of antitrust laws, this will erode DOJ’s legitimacy and undermine this Subcommittee’s authority and is frankly a poor use of federal resources.
Regarding Hart-Scott-Rodino changes, it’s my understanding that you have mentioned support for the changes to the draft merger guidelines AND the proposed changes to the Hart-Scott-Rodino premerger notification form, which the FTC developed with concurrence of the Antitrust Division, I have heard significant concerns from representatives from a wide variety of industries about both of these efforts.
Let me submit for record:
- Article dated Oct 4, 2023, on life sciences organizations opposition to the draft merger guidelines.
- Statement by National Association of Manufacturers asking FTC to withdraw the proposed changes to the HSR form.
- Letter to chairs and rankings of both houses, including ranking member Nadler, from a wide swath of businesses, including the Motion Picture Association and Consumer Technology Association, expressing concerns with the proposed HSR form.
- Article dated July 20, 2023, quoting Former Treasury Secretary Summers warning that the DOJ and FTC’s proposed policies on mergers and acquisitions “seems almost like a war on business.”
Mr. Kanter, I applaud the work the Antitrust Division has done to help American consumers and I laud your goals, but I caution the Division that in following its mission to stamp out antitrust violations it needs to be careful to not inadvertently harm competition and consumers. We need to make sure there are no unintended consequences that more importantly that you don’t hurt paying American jobs.
Mr. Kanter, you and I have spoken in my office a few times. We have similar stories, immigrant backgrounds. My father was lucky to have landed a good paying unskilled union job in making cardboard boxes in Orange County 60 years ago. The hundreds of workers at that manufacturing plant had the same story. It put food on the table, for us and our neighbors, our family, healthcare, and an opportunity for street kids like me to go to college. Yes, this employer was a big company, more importantly, it was a good union job.
I want to thank Mr. Kanter for joining us today and I look forward to our discussion about the challenges and accomplishments of the Antitrust Division.
With that, I yield back.
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