Legislation will ensure fairness in merger reviews for American businesses

Washington, D.C.— Today House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law Subcommittee Chairman Tom Marino (R-Pa.), and Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law Subcommittee Vice-Chairman Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), the original sponsor of the bill, applauded the House passage of H.R. 2745, the Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules (SMARTER) Act. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 235-171.

Under existing law, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice review proposed mergers and acquisitions. However, the two antitrust agencies face different standards in court and utilize different processes when reviewing these transactions. The way a reviewing agency is chosen can appear random, as if it is decided by the flip of a coin. The SMARTER Act eliminates the existing disparities between the two antitrust enforcement agencies and ensures that companies face the same standards and processes regardless of which federal agency reviews the merger.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law Subcommittee Chairman Tom Marino (R-Pa.), and Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law Subcommittee Vice-Chairman Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) issued the following statements on the bill’s passage:

Chairman Goodlatte: “Mergers have the potential to significantly impact our nation’s economy and the livelihood of millions of Americans. The review process for proposed mergers should be fair, transparent and predictable. The results of an antitrust merger review should not depend on which antitrust enforcement agency happens to review the deal.  The outcome should not be determined by the flip of an agency coin. The future of some American businesses depends on a fair merger review by the federal government, and the process must be predictable. The SMARTER Act harmonizes the merger review process to ensure that companies face the same standards and processes regardless of whether the Federal Trade Commission or the Justice Department reviews the merger.”

Subcommittee Chairman Marino: “For too long, an unintended disparity has existed in our country’s antitrust laws.  Two separate agencies ensure competition by applying identical law, yet they do so under different standards. The FTC’s guidelines and independent ability to challenge mergers outside of the federal courts create an unequal environment and an uncertainty for American businesses. This is especially true in a system where no set formula decides which industry is reviewed by the FTC and which is sent to the DOJ. The SMARTER Act resolves these issues by harmonizing both standards and establishing a level playing field across the federal merger review process. It is an important move toward greater stability, investment and job creation in our economy.”

Subcommittee Vice-Chairman Farenthold: “As a government watchdog, I’m always looking for ways to make government smaller, more efficient and fairer. The SMARTER Act ensures a fair merger and acquisition review by eliminating the differences in the review process by the FTC and the DOJ. Currently, the two agencies use different procedures to challenge a merger and cause unequal burdens on merging parties. The process should be fair and transparent and look at what’s best for both consumers and job creators.”

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