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 TlaibDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus 20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order Pressley, Tlaib introduce bill providing .5B in emergency grants for the homeless 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 LeeCBS All Access launches animated 'Tooning Out the News' series Bill banning menthol in cigarettes divides Democrats, with some seeing racial bias Democrats spar with DeVos at hearing, say Trump budget would 'privatize education' MORE (D-Calif.), Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOvernight Energy: Court upholds Trump repeal of Obama fracking rule | Oil price drop threatens fracking boom | EPA eases rules on gasoline sales amid coronavirus Ocasio-Cortez blasts coronavirus stimulus package as 'shameful' on House floor Oil price drop threatens US fracking boom MORE (D-N.Y.) and Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalPelosi says House will review Senate coronavirus stimulus package Critical supplies shortage hampers hospitals, health providers Washington state lawmakers warn health workers running low on protective gear 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.