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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

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - World

Courage vs. coddling with China

Peng Shuai of China serves during the China Open in Beijing in 2017. Photo: Andy Wong/AP

The women's professional tennis tour suspended tournaments in China Wednesday out of concern for Peng Shuai, on the same day that a top business voice made excuses for Beijing.

Why it matters: Ahead of February's Winter Olympics in Beijing, some sports figures are taking on the regime — while Big Business shrinks from confrontation with the world's second-largest economy.

3 hours ago - Sports

What to know about the first MLB lockout since 1995

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Hope you enjoyed the recent flurry of free-agent activity, because it's likely the last non-lockout-related MLB news for a while.

Driving the news: The owners locked out the players after the collective bargaining agreement expired at midnight last night, leading to MLB's ninth work stoppage — and first since 1995.

Biden extends mask mandates for travelers into 2022

President Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

President Biden will announce new testing protocols for international travelers on Thursday and extend masking requirements through March as the U.S. prepares to fight the Omicron variant this winter, according to senior administration officials.

Driving the news: The U.S. will tighten pre-departure testing protocols starting early next week by requiring all inbound international travelers to take COVID-19 tests within one day of their departure rather than three.