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Sprint executive chairman Marcelo Claure (L) and T-Mobile CEO John Legere. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Executives from T-Mobile and Sprint defended their merger during a Wednesday hearing from critics who say that the $26 billion deal will cost customers more money and employees their jobs.

Why it matters: With Democrats in control of the House, the deal — which the companies argue will help America keep pace with foreign competitors on 5G — is under more scrutiny.

Details: T-Mobile CEO John Legere was aggressive in maintaining that costs would not go up for consumers and that the company would not employ fewer people after the merger than the two do now.

  • "Our opponents are wrong when they claim the merger will lead to higher prices," he said. "In fact, the opposite is true."
  • "Our critics are wrong about the impact on jobs," he added.

The big picture: Democrats' concerns about the impact of the merger ran the gamut.

  • Several lawmakers pushed the companies about how the planned merger would affect access for rural customers.
  • Lawmakers also said they were concerned that T-Mobile's plans to continue Sprint's Lifeline service, which subsidizes phone service for low-income people, were superficial. Legere said he was willing to make a commitment to the Lifeline program "in whatever form is needed."

What's next: The House Judiciary Committee had planned a hearing with the executives, but that was postponed — raising the prospect the executives will face another grilling from lawmakers in the future.

The bottom line: Congress has no say in merger approvals. Whether the deal goes through is up to the Department of Justice, Federal Communications Commission and state regulators.

Go deeper: Fight heats up over T-Mobile's $26 billion deal with Sprint

Go deeper

Read: Former Vice President Walter Mondale's last message

Photo courtesy of Mondale.

Former Vice President Walter Mondale wrote a farewell letter to his staff, sent upon his death on Monday, thanking them for years working together.

Dear Team,

Well my time has come. I am eager to rejoin Joan and Eleanor. Before I Go I wanted to let you know how much you mean to me. Never has a public servant had a better group of people working at their side!

Together we have accomplished so much and I know you will keep up the good fight.

Joe in the White House certainly helps.

I always knew it would be okay if I arrived some place and was greeted by one of you!

My best to all of you!

Fritz

Former Vice President Walter Mondale dies at 93

Walter Mondale, left, with former President Jimmy Carter in Jan. 2018 at the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota's campus in Minneapolis. Photo: Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Walter Mondale, who transformed the role of U.S. vice president while serving under Jimmy Carter and was the Democratic nominee for president in 1984, died Monday at 93, according to a family spokesperson.

The big picture: President Biden, who was mentored by Mondale through the years, said in 2015 that the former vice president gave him a "roadmap" to successfully take on the job.

Scoop: U.S. ambassador refuses Kremlin push to leave Russia

U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan. Photo: Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS via Getty Images

The United States ambassador to Russia is refusing to leave the country after the Kremlin "advised" him to return home following new Biden administration sanctions, two sources briefed on the situation tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Sullivan, a respected diplomat who President Biden has, so far, retained from the Trump era, is at the center of one of the most important early tests of Biden's resolve.