Biden's Progressive FTC Chairwoman Riles Republicans With Push to Expand Powers FTC Commissioner nominee Lina M. Khan testifies during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee nomination hearing on Capitol Hill on April 21, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images)
By David Volz | Monday, 28 June 2021 02:04 PM
Lina Khan, chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission, is ruffling feather across the aisle with her efforts to expand the agency's power, the Washington Examiner reports.
Last week, Kahn said the FTC’s five commissioners would vote soon on rescinding a 2015 policy statement on regulating unfair methods of competition under FTC rules. Three of the agency’s commissioners are Democrats and are in favor of more aggressive and larger antitrust enforcement and so the policy will likely be changed.
The current policy puts the agency's focus on promoting consumer welfare and business justifications and limits its enforcement of anti-competitive behavior.
Khan, considered a progressive, aims to to expand the agency’s authority to include economic factors beyond consumer welfare to include corporate concentration and income inequality. Recently antitrust laws have been about anti-competitive mergers and business tactics, according to the Examiner.
The two Republicans on the FTC and some conservative members of Congress are concerned that Khan might try to take a more aggressive stance on regulating industries.
"Rescission of the FTC’s existing Section 5 policy statement would have many significant and harmful effects on American consumers and broader efforts to rebuild our economy post-COVID," said Republican Commissioner Christine Wilson, the Examiner reports. She said believes this could mean the FTC will pursue goals not in favor of consumers and this would mean "paving the way for higher processes, fewer choices, and less innovation," she said.
Republican Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, said he was "disappointed" in Khan’s decision to vote on rescinding the policy, saying it "would also signal that the Commission rejects the idea that there are any limits to its power or regulatory reach."
Other GOP senators who have expressed concern about Khan include Marcia Blackburn, R-Tenn., Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and Cynthia Lunnis., R-Wyo.
Khan has strongly criticized large corporations including large technology companies. She has also won support from progressive Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. to conservative Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.
"Antitrust enforcement fell through the floor for decades, and the courts have been defanged as well. I am thrilled by her appointment. Lina’s appointment has broad societal implications far beyond tech, and into consolidation in media, finance, broadband, and access," Shahid Buttar, a civil rights lawyer told MarketWatch.
Khan’s recent appointment was considered one of two major hits to big tech companies. On June 11, the Democrat controlled House introduced major legislation that put Google parent Alphabet Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc, and Facebook under scrutiny. The five bills could force them to divest themselves of businesses, restrict their ability to acquire potential competitors and impose limits on platform run businesses.