House Dems introduce anti-price gouging legislation

House Dems introduce anti-price gouging legislation
© Greg Nash

A group of four powerful House Democrats on Wednesday introduced legislation aimed at curbing price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic.

The COVID-19 Price Gouging Prevention Act would prohibit the sale of goods and services during the current public health emergency at "grossly" higher levels than before it.

“It’s outrageous that some companies and individuals are taking advantage of American consumers by price gouging during the COVID-19 pandemic," Democratic Reps. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerHouse Judiciary Committee to hold hearing on police brutality next week House Judiciary to hear whistleblowers on 'politicization' of Justice Dept under Trump House Democrats unveil measure to condemn police brutality MORE (N.Y.), Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyHillicon Valley: Trump signs order targeting social media legal protections | House requests conference with Senate after FISA vote canceled | Minneapolis systems temporarily brought down by hackers Democrats call on FTC to investigate allegations of TikTok child privacy violations Hillicon Valley: Facebook permanently shifting thousands of jobs to remote work | Congressional action on driverless cars hits speed bump during pandemic | Republicans grill TikTok over data privacy concerns MORE (Ill.) and David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineDemocrats call for special prosecutor to investigate clearing of protesters outside White House The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Johns Hopkins's Jennifer Nuzzo says America needs public health crisis insurance to pay for COVID-19 victims; Protests, pandemic continue to ravage America Trump, GOP go all-in on anti-China strategy MORE (R.I.) said in a statement.

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"Goods and services such as hand sanitizer, personal protective equipment and other medical supplies, and many other items would be covered by this bill because every American deserves access to these essential goods at a reasonable price."

Nadler and Pallone chair the House Judiciary and the House Energy and Commerce committees, respectively, while Schakowsky and Cicilline both lead subpanels on anti-trust laws and consumer protection.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general would be given more enforcement tools under the new legislation.

Spiking prices for essential goods during the spread of coronavirus has been a persistent issue, and several actors have tried to curb it.

Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharTwitter CEO: 'Not true' that removing Trump campaign video was illegal, as president has claimed Biden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination Hillicon Valley: Conspiracy theories run rampant online amid Floyd protests | First lawsuit filed against Trump social media order | Snapchat to no longer promote Trump's account MORE (D-Minn.) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisGOP Sen. Murkowski 'struggling' with whether to vote for Trump Poll: Biden leads Trump, Cunningham neck and neck with Tillis in North Carolina Scaled-back Pride Month poses challenges for fundraising, outreach MORE (R-N.C.) separately introduced legislation that would give the FTC more authority to tackle price gouging during emergencies.

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House Democrats tried to include similar language in last month's coronavirus stimulus package but were ultimately unsuccessful.

The FTC has said it has been working with enforcement authorities and stakeholders to stop deceptive business practices.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTwitter CEO: 'Not true' that removing Trump campaign video was illegal, as president has claimed Biden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination Barr says he didn't give 'tactical' command to clear Lafayette protesters MORE last month signed an executive order aimed at preventing price gouging and hoarding of critical medical supplies. It would allow the Department of Justice to apply criminal penalties if supplies deemed critical are hoarded, Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrBarr says he didn't give 'tactical' command to clear Lafayette protesters The failure of the other police officers to stop George Floyd's killing may be the biggest challenge 18 state attorneys general request authority to investigate local police MORE said.