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 passes bill to protect pregnant workers House Democrats postpone vote on marijuana decriminalization bill Attacks against the police are organized and violent MORE (N.Y.), Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyAhead of a coronavirus vaccine, Mexico's drug pricing to have far-reaching impacts on Americans With Biden, advocates sense momentum for lifting abortion funding ban Hillicon Valley: Facebook removed over 22 million posts for hate speech in second quarter | Republicans introduce bill to defend universities against hackers targeting COVID-19 research | Facebook's Sandberg backs Harris as VP pick MORE (Ill.) and David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineClark rolls out endorsements in assistant Speaker race Races heat up for House leadership posts The folly of Cicilline's 'Glass-Steagall for Tech' 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 KlobucharEPA delivers win for ethanol industry angered by waivers to refiners It's time for newspapers to stop endorsing presidential candidates Biden marks anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, knocks Trump and McConnell MORE (D-Minn.) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisAirline job cuts loom in battleground states Hillicon Valley: DOJ indicts Chinese, Malaysian hackers accused of targeting over 100 organizations | GOP senators raise concerns over Oracle-TikTok deal | QAnon awareness jumps in new poll Republican Senators raise concerns over Oracle-TikTok deal 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 TrumpHR McMaster says president's policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is 'unwise' Cast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response 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 BarrBill BarrBiden rips Barr's comments on coronavirus restrictions as 'sick' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Cheney asks DOJ to probe environmental groups | Kudlow: 'No sector worse hurt than energy' during pandemic | Trump pledges 'no politics' in Pebble Mine review Cheney asks DOJ to probe environmental groups  MORE said.