Sep 29, 2022 - Technology

House passes bill to raise DOJ, FTC merger fees

Illustration of an eagle swooping in on a pile of cash.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The House of Representatives Thursday approved a bill that will raise filing fees on large mergers and acquisitions.

Why it matters: Supporters of stricter antitrust regulation in tech cheered because revenue from these fees will help support enforcement efforts at the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice.

Driving the news: HR3843, the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act, passed the House 242-184 with bipartisan support.

How it works: The bill will raise fees for the largest transactions before the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission and lower fees for small- and medium-sized transactions.

  • The bill package contains two other provisions — one that helps state attorneys general bring antitrust cases in the venues of their choice, and another that requires merging parties to notify antitrust agencies if they are subsidized by entities that are "strategic or economic threats" to the U.S.

By the numbers: Transactions of $5 billion or more would pay a filing fee of $2.25 million.

  • The Congressional Budget Office estimated the bill would bring in an additional $1.4 billion over five years.

What they're saying: "Our antitrust enforcement system is beyond outdated. The last time Congress updated the merger filing fees was in 2001, long before companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Apple began their anti-competitive and monopolistic frenzy of acquisitions," tweeted Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), a sponsor of the bill, ahead of the vote.

  • "This bill updates those filing fees and ensures our antitrust agencies have the resources they need to effectively combat the growing concentration of our economy in the hands of the largest corporations."

The other side: Tech groups like NetChoice and the Chamber of Commerce opposed the bill.

  • "These bills are detrimental to law-abiding Americans and give more cash handouts to radical agencies pursuing Biden’s progressive agenda, like the FTC," NetChoice president Carl Szabo said in a statement.

What's next: The Senate will have to vote on the House's package before it can become law. Hill sources tell Axios the package may be "hotlined," or moved to the floor quickly for a vote by unanimous consent.

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