Chairman Nadler Statement for the Markup of H.R. 3826, the Platform Competition and Opportunity Act of 2021
Washington, June 23, 2021
Washington, D.C. - Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening remarks, as prepared, during the markup of H.R. 3826, the Platform Competition and Opportunity Act of 2021:
"H.R. 3826, the 'Platform Competition and Opportunity Act of 2021,' improves merger enforcement in the digital economy by shifting the burden of proof for transactions involving a dominant platform that are most likely to harm competition, eliminate consumer choice, and prevent new competition from entering the market.
"During the past decade, the platforms investigated by the Committee were able to reinforce their market power and eliminate competition by acquiring hundreds of smaller firms that, in several critical examples, were competitors or nascent rivals.
"In May, the Washington Post noted that these firms 'dominate many facets of our lives' precisely because they 'acquired hundreds of companies over decades to propel them to become some of the most powerful tech behemoths in the world.'
"Importantly, antitrust enforcers closely reviewed only a handful of these transactions, and none were challenged. In other words, antitrust enforcers across both Democratic and Republican Administrations stood idly by while what was once a dynamic and fast-growing market became concentrated and monopolized.
"This problem has only been exacerbated by decades of disastrous legal precedents that have imposed near-impossible standards for antitrust agencies to satisfy in order to stop harmful mergers.
"The 'Platform Competition and Opportunity Act of 2021' targets this problem by prohibiting the largest online platforms from engaging in mergers that would eliminate competitors, or potential competitors, or that would serve to enhance or reinforce monopoly power. This legislation strikes the right balance by shifting the burden to these firms—which are extremely well-capitalized and employ thousands of attorneys—to show that these types of acquisitions will not harm competition.
"Earlier this year, then-Acting FTC Chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter testified before the Antitrust Subcommittee that this form of burden shifting 'would substantially help deter unlawful mergers.'
"Not only will this legislation give antitrust enforcers the tools they need to block anticompetitive mergers, but it will also deter companies from entering into these harmful transactions in the first place. All too often, antitrust enforcers are forced to spend time and resources on transactions that should have never made it out of the boardroom.
"Importantly, this legislation includes reasonable exceptions for the types of routine transactions that should not require enhanced review.
"H.R. 3826 is limited in scope and successfully remedies a problem that prevents our antitrust enforcers from stopping anticompetitive acquisitions in the digital marketplace.
"This bipartisan legislation would help promote greater competition, more choices and increased innovation in the marketplace."I thank Congressman Jeffries and Ranking Member Buck for their leadership on this vital legislation, and I urge all Members to support it."