Democratic lawmakers push for merger freeze in next coronavirus relief package

Democratic lawmakers push for merger freeze in next coronavirus relief package
© Greg Nash

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 CicillineOVERNIGHT ENERGY: DOJ whistleblower says California emissions probe was 'abuse of authority' | EPA won't defend policy blocking grantees from serving on boards | Minnesota sues Exxon, others over climate change DOJ whistleblower: California emissions probe was 'abuse of authority' Hillicon Valley: Apple's developer dispute draws lawmaker scrutiny of App Store | GOP senator blocks bill to expand mail-in and early voting | Twitter flags Trump tweet on protesters for including 'threat of harm' 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 RaskinDemocrats start cracking down on masks for lawmakers Clyburn threatens to end in-person coronavirus committee hearings if Republicans won't wear masks The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems, GOP dig in on police reform ahead of House vote MORE (D-Md.) and progressive lawmakers Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHispanic Caucus asks Trump to rescind invitation to Mexican president Nadler wins Democratic primary The Hill's Campaign Report: Colorado, Utah primary results bring upsets, intrigue MORE (D-N.Y.), Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalProgressive lawmakers call for conditions on Israel aid Hillicon Valley: Democrats introduce bill banning federal government use of facial recognition tech | House lawmakers roll out legislation to establish national cyber director | Top federal IT official to step down Democratic lawmakers introduce legislation banning government use of facial recognition technologies MORE (D-Wash.) and Mark PocanMark William PocanSteyer endorses Markey in Massachusetts Senate primary Celebrities fundraise for Markey ahead of Massachusetts Senate primary Why Veterans Affairs workers don't trust the Trump administration 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.

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“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 PelosiMilitary bases should not be renamed, we must move forward in the spirit of reconciliation Pelosi: Trump 'himself is a hoax' Women must continue to persist to rise as political leaders of America MORE (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMcCarthy to offer bill withholding funds from states that don't protect statues McCarthy calls on Pelosi to condemn 'mob violence' after toppling of St. Junipero Serra statue The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Stagwell President Mark Penn says Trump is losing on fighting the virus; Fauci says U.S. 'going in the wrong direction' in fight against virus 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 WarrenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden chips away at Trump's fundraising advantage Warnock raises almost M in Georgia Senate race in second quarter The Hill's Morning Report - Trump lays low as approval hits 18-month low 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.