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Democratic lawmakers push for merger freeze in next coronavirus relief package


A group of Democratic representatives sent a letter to House leadership on Tuesday pushing for a freeze on most mergers in the next coronavirus relief package.

Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineHillicon Valley: House committee calls on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to testify | Trump issues executive order to protect power grid against attacks | Department of Education investigates ties between University of Texas and China House Judiciary Committee calls on Bezos to testify as part of antitrust probe Warren, Ocasio-Cortez to propose big merger freeze amid pandemic MORE (D-R.I.), chairman of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, is leading the letter, which backers include Energy and Commerce consumer protection subcommittee chair Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), leadership member Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinThe ‘new normal’ takes shape on Capitol Hill Federal employees push for COVID-19 protections in ‘dangerous’ workplaces McCarthy doubtful Republicans will participate in coronavirus select committee MORE (D-Md.) and progressive lawmakers Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHousing advocates sound alarm as May rents collide with coronavirus Hillicon Valley: Republican senator calls for investigation into Amazon | Warren, Ocasio-Cortez propose big merger freeze during pandemic | Delaware to allow disabled voters to vote online in primary On The Money: White House mulling additional stimulus checks | House delay raises questions about coronavirus relief | Small business program may be near exhaustion MORE (D-N.Y.), Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalHillicon Valley: House committee calls on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to testify | Trump issues executive order to protect power grid against attacks | Department of Education investigates ties between University of Texas and China House Judiciary Committee calls on Bezos to testify as part of antitrust probe GOP lawmakers slam proposals for guaranteed income amid pandemic MORE (D-Wash.) and Mark PocanMark William PocanThe ‘new normal’ takes shape on Capitol Hill House committees move toward virtual hearings for COVID-19 era Federal employees push for COVID-19 protections in ‘dangerous’ workplaces MORE (D-Wis.).

“Powerful corporations and private equity firms are standing ready to exploit this crisis for unfair financial gain. We know that market consolidation produces higher prices and few choices for consumers, lower wages for workers, and contributes to grotesque levels of economic inequality,” Cicilline said in a statement.

“To protect American consumers and workers, the next COVID-19 relief package should include a merger moratorium for transactions that do not involve firms that are truly failing and have exhausted all other options or are in bankruptcy proceedings.”

The letter to House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe next big battle on Capitol Hill concerns aid to states and localities Pelosi slams White House for blocking coronavirus task force members from testifying: ‘They might be afraid of the truth’ Parties divided over health risks to reopening Capitol MORE (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyParties divided over health risks to reopening Capitol House Democrat calls for halt to lawmakers sleeping in their offices GOP leader disagrees with Pelosi, McConnell on WH testing offer MORE (R-Calif.) calls for an exception for mergers involving the purchase of a severely distressed company that would otherwise likely go bankrupt.

Cicilline first proposed a merger moratorium during the pandemic last month.

A full moratorium on mergers would be unprecedented in the U.S., although the government has paused sector-specific mergers before.

Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSome Democrats say charges against Biden merit independent investigation Michelle Obama’s presence on the ticket would be big boost for Biden Poll: Sanders, Warren top Democratic voters’ list of potential VP contenders MORE (D-Mass.) are set to propose legislation detailing what such a freeze would look like.

The Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act would freeze mergers that include companies that have more than $100 million in revenue, are run by hedge funds or private equity firms or that have exclusive patents impacted by the crisis, like key medical equipment.

Additionally, all mergers that must be reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) under current law, which in 2020 is any valued over $94 million, would be frozen as well.



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