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 TlaibSteyer plans impeachment push targeting Democrats over recess Tlaib urges Mnuchin to seek personal legal advice Pelosi faces tipping point on Trump impeachment 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 LeeLee, Sanders introduce bill to tax Wall Street transactions Overnight Defense: Trump officials say efforts to deter Iran are working | Trump taps new Air Force secretary | House panel passes defense bill that limits border wall funds House Appropriations passes defense bill that would limit funds for border wall, pull US support from Yemen war MORE (D-Calif.), Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez defends Dem lawmaker who said child migrant deaths were 'intentional' On The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Murkowski celebrates birthday with electric scooter ride MORE (D-N.Y.) and Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalPelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Immigration bills move forward amid political upheaval House Democrat: Seattle airport's ban on ICE detainee flights helps 'hold a lawless administration accountable' 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.