WASHINGTON – Today, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) announced that they plan to introduce legislation in the Senate to reform and modernize the application of our antitrust laws, by harmonizing the rules governing how the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) review proposed mergers and acquisitions. Based on recommendations made by the Antitrust Modernization Commission in a 2007 report, the bill would require the FTC and DOJ to satisfy the same standard to obtain a preliminary injunction to block a merger and would eliminate existing disparities between the procedures the two agencies use in merger litigation. Lee and Hatch said they look forward to continuing discussions with the FTC and the House of Representatives, which introduced reform legislation last Congress. That bill, the Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules (SMARTER) Act (H.R. 5402), was introduced by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) and reported out of the House Judiciary Committee on a voice vote last year.
“The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission share concurrent jurisdiction to review proposed mergers for compliance with our nation’s antitrust laws, and yet the two agencies can use different procedures in applying the same laws,” said Sen. Lee. “Senator Hatch and I favor sensible, responsible reform measures that equalize the standards and procedures governing how the FTC and DOJ litigate merger cases. There’s no reason that companies need to confront two different sets of rules when preparing to undergo a merger review process with the federal government.”
Senator Hatch said: “This is an important issue for the business community and for all Americans. There is no good reason for the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice to apply different standards in enforcing our nation’s antitrust laws. Businesses seeking to merge deserve consistent treatment without regard to which agency decides to review the merger. I look forward to working with Senator Lee and with my other colleagues on much-needed reforms to improve the merger review process.”