Democrats on Energy and Trade Committee advance 13 (b) reform legislation through subcommittee
On May 27, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce Advanced by voice vote RH 2668, a law to clarify the authority of the Federal Trade Commission under Section 13 (b) of the Federal Trade Act, just five weeks after the Supreme Court emptied that authority in AMG Capital Management, LLC v. FTC. The subcommittee vote followed hours of political fighting, with Republicans accusing Democrats of pursuing a hasty and partisan process and Democrats accusing Republicans of ignoring FTC calls and refusing to engage on the issue .
As previously described, HR 2668, the Consumer Protection and Recovery Act, written by Representative Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), would explicitly allow the FTC to seek permanent injunctions and other equitable remedies, including restitution and restitution, to redress the harm perceived by the consumer. The subcommittee reported HR 2668 largely unchanged, with the exception of a replacement amendment by Representative Cárdenas making minor changes to the bill. At first, the Democratic subcommittee rejected two Republican motions to postpone consideration of the bill. Democrats then rejected two Republican amendments: one delaying passage of the bill until the FTC certifies that a 2003 policy statement on restitution in competition cases is more broadly applicable; and one prohibiting the Commission from requesting restitution unless it has carried out an economic analysis. Republicans also “proposed and withdrawn” an amendment to reduce the statute of limitations proposed by the legislation from 10 to five years.
Beyond the specific 13 (b) safeguards, Republicans – including subcommittee ranking member Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) – have expressed their intention to tackle authority 13 (b ) of the agency as part of a more comprehensive overhaul of FTC policy, including the creation of a national privacy framework. To that end, another handful of Republican amendments – many of which deal with FTC authorities beyond 13 (b) – have been proposed and withdrawn.
It remains to be seen whether Representative Cárdenas and his fellow Democrats can allay Republicans’ concerns and achieve a bipartisan solution. Notably, the bill has yet to be approved by the entire Energy and Trade Committee before receiving a vote in the House. And, as we have reported, the Senate is working on its own legislative framework, which means the two versions may need to be reconciled before enactment. As Energy and Commerce Democrats and Acting FTC Chairman Rebecca Slaughter continue to stress the urgency of the situation, a new law clarifying 13 (b) is – at best – likely in a matter of months. . Today it’s still just a bill sitting here on Capitol Hill.
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