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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Senate Committee on the Judiciary
  • The house Passed May 9th, 2018
    Roll Call Vote 230 Yea / 185 Nay
      house Committees
      House Committee on the Judiciary
      Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law
    IntroducedApril 27th, 2018

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What is it?

This bill — known as the SMARTER Act — would standardize procedures used by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) when reviewing proposed mergers or acquisitions that may lessen competition or lead to monopolies. Both agencies are responsible for enforcing anti-trust laws, but the way exercise the authority under current law is different.

Specifically, the bill would harmonize the standard the FTC and DOJ must meet before a federal court can issue a preliminary injunction against a proposed merger or acquisition. It’d also direct the FTC to resolve contested mergers or acquisitions through a federal court rather than through administrative litigation.

The bill’s full title is the Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act of 2018.

Impact

Businesses involved in a proposed merger or acquisition; the Federal Trade Commission; and the Dept. of Justice.

Cost

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: This legislation was introduced by Rep. Karen Handel (R-GA) to standardize enforcement procedures for anti-trust laws between the FTC and DOJ, as members of the Judiciary Committee explained about its predecessor in the last Congress:

“Under existing law, the rules for reviewing a merger or acquisition differ depending on whether the FTC or the Justice  Department reviews the merger… One of the responsibilities of the Judiciary Committee is to ensure fairness and consistency in the enforcement of our nation’s antitrust laws. We plan to soon reintroduce the SMARTER Act to permanently reduce the disparities in the merger review process and ensure that companies face the same standards and processes regardless of whether the FTC or Justice Department reviews the merger.”

This legislation has the support of seven bipartisan cosponsors, including five Republicans and two Democrats. During the last session of Congress the House passed an identical version of this bill on a 235-171 vote.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Christopher Dombres / Creative Commons)

AKA

Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act of 2018

Official Title

To amend the Clayton Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act to provide that the Federal Trade Commission shall exercise authority with respect to mergers only under the Clayton Act and only in the same procedural manner as the Attorney General exercises such authority.

    As long as the standards are updated, then yes. We need to modernize our antitrust laws, as well as work to keep them modern.
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    The FTC and DOJ are assigned different areas of responsibility based on their missions; it makes sense that the standards each uses would also be different. I am sure there are areas which do overlap and where harmonization is appropriate and desirable, but given the separate scope of oversight, some diversity should be expected. While police, fire, and paramedic services are all charged with protecting public safety, the focus of each necessarily differs and applying identical rules would hinder their duties. Publicizing and consistently enforcing the respective standards is a better approach, and leaves more room for updates when new developments or strategies by businesses emerge as a response to the existing regulations. Harmonize where possible, but don’t handcuff by requiring exact alignment.
    Like (48)
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    My question is : WHAT HAPPENED to the ANTI-TRUST laws that Teddy Roosevelt got pushed thru and then again when in 1984 there were more monopoly laws that broke up Ma Bell into lots of Baby Bells?? Now AT & T is a monopoly and paid millions of dollars to Cohen’s slush fund LLC. Our country is FULL of monopolies and it’s getting worse. In the 1970s there were 350 carpet manufacturers in this country and today there are less than 6 because the others were bought up or run out of business. MONOPOLIES ARE PART OF THE TEASON WHY MANUFACTURING HAS STALLED also. Look at the drug companies. Costs are prohibitive because they have been sucked up by other companies
    Like (38)
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    How about utilizing the Department of Ethics to enforce the policies already in place and to address new issues that may require attention to protect the citizens from corrupt or unethical business practices, as well as to protect the citizens from Government agencies and specific agents seeking to perform unethical acts for their person benefits.
    Like (35)
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    It doesn't give enough information, so I'm going to have to say no
    Like (11)
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    The bodies need to be independant, not a monopoly regulating monopolies.
    Like (11)
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    Because they will establish a baseline, on what is acceptable Buisness practices with respect for competition and fairness.
    Like (10)
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    Anytime I see a bill sponsored by a Republican I wonder what the motives are. Seems to me there just trying to make more money for the monopoly instead of trying to keep small business in business!
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    We need to minimize Winner-Take-All Capitalism and again promote an atmosphere where entrepreneurial capitalism is allowed to flourish.
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    The major problem with mergers and acquisitions lately has been that government HASN’T gotten in the way. Leave the regulations as they are and get the DOJ to enforce the law as it was written instead of the way Republicans want to interpret it.
    Like (6)
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    No, the government isn’t good at NOT creating monopolies- just consider what’s happened to media, utilities, and healthcare.
    Like (5)
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    If we had better anti trust laws maybe we wouldn’t have monopolies! We would have more open competition. We also would have real news and not companies like Comcast and Sinclair dictating what is reported.
    Like (4)
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    I support the passage of the SMARTER Act — which would standardize procedures used by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) when reviewing proposed mergers or acquisitions that may lessen competition or lead to monopolies. Both agencies are responsible for enforcing anti-trust laws, but the way exercise the authority under current law is different. The Federal Trade Commission and Dept. of Justice will be more effective at reviewing proposed mergers and acquisitions for antitrust violations if they use the same procedures with similar standards. 5*8*28....
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    Fairness and consistency would be a valuable and rare thing under this administration.
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    Because the purpose of the bill is to reduce the government’s ability to identify and respond to businesses attempting to monopolize markets, which is deemed illegal by the U.S. Constitution. It is necessary because as time passes, people (and therefore entities) get smarter about how to break rules. https://business-law.freeadvice.com/business-law/trade_regulation/anti_trust_act.htm Greed is a natural inclination. Rules are put in place to help people and entities from harming others. They level the playing field and keep is collectively aligned with the spirit and goals of the nation.
    Like (3)
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    The two agencies mentioned have differing responsibilities. Standardize those areas that are common and leave those that are not distinct.
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    Each agency has it’s own areas/interests to monitor. Two sets of eyes are better than one.
    Like (3)
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    SMART Rusky Republicans turn their backs on 100 years of reform as started by a Republican President, Teddy Roosevelt. I guess they want to revisit their 100 year anniversary, the Bolshevik Revolution.
    Like (2)
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    If the House passed this bill, it will solely benefit the corporations at the expense of hard-working American citizens. Yes-I distrust the party in power 100%!
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    Eliminate all anti-trust laws, which are merely tools of big corporations to keep out competition and efficiencies!
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