On March 18, 2021, the House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust subcommittee had a hearing labeled “Reviving Competition, Part 3: Strengthening the Laws to Address Monopoly Power”. The hearing began with opening remarks from Representative David Cicilline (D-RI), who spoke about the limitations in current antitrust laws on the topic of market dominance, and remarks from Representative Ken Buck (R-CO) who spoke on how both political parties are willing to work together in numerous areas. The hearing encompassed six testimonies from witnesses Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”); Judge Diane P. Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; Phillip Weiser, Attorney General of Colorado; Dr. Mike Walker, Chief Economic Adviser for the United Kingdom Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”); Noah Phillips, Commissioner at the FTC (Republican); and Doug Peterson, Attorney General of Nebraska.
For opening remarks, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, the Acting Chair of the FTC, declared: “Aggressive enforcement using the FTC’s existing authority can and should be complemented by this committee’s work to sharpen antitrust laws and to impose broader market-wide restrictions that address pervasive anticompetitive conduct and conditions. I believe the FTC must push antitrust law forward through bold agency action.” Slaughter said, we must lay the groundwork for success for new theories and more aggressive enforcement. Here, she touted the FTC’s recently announced working group to build a new approach to pharmaceutical mergers. She suggested the FTC should consider bringing standalone Section 5 claims more frequently and called on more resources for the agency.
Slaughter conveyed her disappointment in the FTC’s decisions and actions on not suing Google back in 2013. “It’s incumbent on the FTC to bring hard cases in all areas, not just in tech, not just in platforms,” Slaughter stated. After her comments on harsher punishments for big companies that seem to weasel their ways out of antitrust laws, Slaughter called for higher tolerance for litigation risk, more specifically, declining a settlement that doesn’t entirely correct harm. She also communicated how we all must construct the basis for success in new models and more aggressive enforcement to be enacted.