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Dems urge Sessions to reject AT&T-Time Warner merger

Dems urge Sessions to reject AT&T-Time Warner merger
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A group of Democratic senators is calling on the Justice Department to block the proposed AT&T-Time Warner merger, arguing the megadeal would hurt consumers.

“Before initiating the next big wave of media consolidation, you must consider how the $85 billion deal will impact Americans' wallets, as well as their access to a wide-range of news and entertainment programming,” the senators wrote in a letter to Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Grassley to Sessions: Policy for employees does not comply with the law New immigration policy leaves asylum seekers in the lurch MORE.

“Should you determine that the substantial harms to competition and consumers arising from the transaction outweigh the purported benefits, you should reject the proposed acquisition.”

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The group is led by Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenOvernight Finance: Senators near two-year budget deal | Trump would 'love to see a shutdown' over immigration | Dow closes nearly 600 points higher after volatile day | Trade deficit at highest level since 2008 | Pawlenty leaving Wall Street group Pawlenty departing Wall Street group as campaign rumors swirl Bachmann won't run for Franken's Senate seat because she did not hear a 'call from God' MORE (D-Minn.) and includes Democratic Sens. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeySenate receives official net neutrality notice from FCC EPA chief braces for grilling from Senate Dems Trump’s former chemical safety nominee leaving EPA MORE (Mass.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenWATCH: Dems say Trump will look like he has something to hide if he avoids Muller interview House funding bill includes bipartisan Medicare reforms Trump approves Indiana Medicaid work requirements MORE (Ore.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenGovernment watchdog finds safety gaps in assisted living homes David Crosby: Shared dislike for Trump could reunite Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Dem senators tell Trump he doesn’t have ‘legal authority’ to launch preemptive strike on North Korea MORE (Mass.), Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyPentagon: War in Afghanistan will cost billion in 2018 Trump has declared war on our climate — we won’t let him win Lawmakers left with more questions than answers on Trump infrastructure plan MORE (Ore.), Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellGreen group backs Sens. Baldwin, Nelson for reelection The US is falling behind in artificial intelligence research WHIP LIST: Shutdown looms as Senate lacks votes to pass House spending bill MORE (Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownTrump accuses Dems of 'treasonous' behavior Former Ohio football star faces conservative rival in GOP primary fight Dems press Trump for 'Buy American' proposals in infrastructure plan MORE (Ohio), Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinGreen group backs Sens. Baldwin, Nelson for reelection Dems press Trump for 'Buy American' proposals in infrastructure plan Protesters wearing blue fill hearing to protest Grassley ignoring 'blue slip rule' MORE (Wis.) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersTrump has declared war on our climate — we won’t let him win Stock slide bites boastful Trump, but rising wages great for GOP Millions should march on DC to defeat Trump Republicans MORE (I-Vt.).

In a statement to The Hill, an AT&T spokesman pushed back on the letter, arguing that the merger will help increase consumer choice and that concerns over the deal's threat to content discrimination are overblown.

“We’ve addressed all of the issues raised by this letter in AT&T’s and Time Warner’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last January, in our February 2017 response to this same group of Senators, as well as in the extensive review of this transaction currently in process at the Department of Justice," the spokesman said.

"Specifically, we’ve highlighted how our merger is about giving consumers more choices, not less," he added.

President Trump railed against the merger as a candidate in October, vowing that his administration would not allow it to go through. But since taking office he has generally appointed conservatives to his administration who are inclined to take a less intrusive approach to regulating mergers.

In their letter, the Democrats argued the merger could lead to less competition among mobile broadband and television providers. And they raised concerns AT&T could violate net neutrality principles by restricting competitors' online and television content in favor of its own.

“As the DOJ finalizes its review of the transaction, we call on you to defend American competition and innovation and ensure that Americans have open and affordable access to communications services, as well as a wide range of programming,” the letter reads. “We hope you'll take a stand for U.S. consumers and businesses and closely scrutinize the transaction.”

Updated: 4:33 p.m.