Senator and former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination Amy Klobuchar is introducing the Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act today.
Sen. Klobuchar, who heads the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee, is looking to put new burdens on companies seeking to acquire competitors. An announcement of the bill noted that it aims to “Shift the burden to the merging parties to prove their merger will not violate the law.”
The bill would also provide broad new legal authority and resources to the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission, the country’s civil antitrust regulator, including annual budgets of $484,500,000 for the DoJ’s antitrust and $651,000,000 for the FTC — increases of some $300 million each.
Within the FTC, the bill looks to establish an “Office of the Competition Advocate,” which would in turn host a new Data Center that would collect information about mergers and acquisitions.
Just yesterday, Klobuchar’s counterpart in the House Antitrust Subcommittee, Representative David Cicilline, signaled interest in similar legislation. On his Facebook page, Cicilline wrote: “Last year, the Antitrust Subcommittee conducted the most sweeping congressional antitrust investigation of its kind in a half century. I am delighted that I will have the opportunity to continue this work along with my outstanding colleagues on the subcommittee.”
Cicilline was referring to the subcommittee’s October report on antitrust among tech giants. Indeed, it has been a huge year for scrutiny into anticompetitive practices at firms like Facebook, Google and Amazon. The DoJ’s antitrust division recently put a stop to Visa’s acquisition of Plaid.
Though the text of Sen. Klobuchar’s legislation doesn’t single out tech, this has been the area of the most dramatic expansion of antitrust capabilities. Regulators have been aggressively trying to get up to speed with the new technological requirements of investigations into firms who may be bullying competitors exclusively in the digital realm, leaving little in the way of classic paper trails.