Tlaib, progressives urge regulators to block T-Mobile-Sprint merger

Tlaib, progressives urge regulators to block T-Mobile-Sprint merger
© Greg Nash

Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOmar says she hopes Netanyahu not reelected Bill Maher, Michael Moore spar over Democrats' strategy for 2020 Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight MORE (D-Mich.) is leading a group of progressive Democrats in calling on regulators to block the proposed $26 billion merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, arguing that the deal will hurt workers and the low-income consumers who rely on the two telecoms giants' affordable offerings.

Tlaib and 36 House Democrats are sending letters, which were shared in advance with The Hill, to Ajit Pai (R), the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and Makan Delrahim, the head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, on Tuesday afternoon.

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“The T-Mobile-Sprint merger is a gross example of corporate greed that will leave many working and vulnerable Americans with higher costs, lower wages, and less jobs,” Tlaib said in a statement to The Hill. “This merger stands to have a negative impact on constituents and districts like the one I serve, and Chairman Pai and Assistant Attorney General Delrahim must hear about why this merger is bad for Americans. I have a duty to ensure that people come before profits.”

The merger has generated significant opposition from some congressional Democrats, including a handful of 2020 presidential candidates, and the new push shows that the deal has become a political target for many on the left.

Among those signing the letters are Reps. Barbara LeeBarbara Jean LeeMarijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis Lawmakers urge DNC to name Asian American debate moderator Overnight Health Care: Planned Parenthood to leave federal family planning program absent court action | Democrats demand Trump withdraw rule on transgender health | Cummings, Sanders investigate three drug companies for 'obstructing' probe MORE (D-Calif.), Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez mocks 'White House ethics' in Instagram post Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi set to unveil drug price plan | Abortion rate in US hits lowest level since Roe v. Wade | Dems threaten to subpoena Juul Kennedy to challenge Markey in Senate primary MORE (D-N.Y.) and Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalPelosi woos progressives on prescription drug pricing plan Democrats ignore Asian American and Pacific Islander voters at their peril Overnight Health Care: Watchdog details severe trauma suffered by separated children | Judge approves B CVS-Aetna merger | House Dem Caucus chair backs 'Medicare for All' MORE (D-Wash.). Axios reported last month that Tlaib had been asking her colleagues to sign the letter.

Opponents worry that combining two of the only four major national wireless providers will drive up prices by reducing competition.

And the labor group Communications Workers of America is predicting that the merger will lead to a loss of 30,000 jobs.

T-Mobile and Sprint did not immediately respond when asked for comment.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere has dismissed critics’ claims about the deal, arguing that it will give the combined company better footing to compete with Verizon and AT&T as the industry rolls out next-generation wireless networks known as 5G.

“The New T-Mobile offers real, meaningful, major benefits,” Legere wrote in a blog post last month. “It will give customers more for less, create new jobs, help bridge the digital divide in rural America, bring real choice and competition to home broadband and unleash innovation with real, nationwide 5G for All.”

Legere also pledged to the FCC not to raise rates on consumers for three years after the merger, a move that some analysts took as a sign the companies were having a hard time making their case to regulators.

The deal is being reviewed by the FCC and the Justice Department, and it is unlikely that lawmakers will have much impact on the agencies’ decisionmaking process, but the letters are the latest sign that Democrats see the deal as a symbol of the inequality and corporate greed that the left has railed against.

“The sole reason for this merger between T-Mobile and Sprint appears to be helping a handful of individuals get significantly wealthier,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter Tuesday.