Remarks as Delivered
Chairman Massie, Ranking Member Correa, Chairman Jordan, Ranking Member Nadler and distinguished members of the subcommittee, it’s an honor to appear before you today on behalf of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice.
Antitrust enforcement is about economic liberty. A vibrant, open and competitive market economy sustains a thriving democracy premised on individual liberty. Absent competition, real people suffer real harms. Consumers pay more for less. Farmers earn less. It’s harder to start a business. The benefits of the competitive process are too myriad to list — as are the devastating consequences of markets that are beset by consolidation and collusion.
Antitrust issues affect every aspect of American life. I’m mindful that next Thursday is Thanksgiving. For millions of Americans, the cost of air travel will decide whether they are able to make it home to see loved ones. Families getting together to share gratitude and turkey dinners are also facing the growing cost of putting food on their tables. For these American families, competition — or the lack thereof — has real consequences. Simply put, harm to competition means harm to real people.
As law enforcers, we must remain steadfast in our efforts to hold wrongdoers accountable, especially when there is so much at stake. We are taking action where people most feel the effects of concentration. And we are having success. With your indulgence, I would like to share just a handful of our recent efforts:
- We have successfully blocked a de facto merger between two major airlines that would have caused harm to air travelers across the country.
- We won another large, complex civil trial to stop the proposed merger of two major book publishers that would have harmed authors, readers and the free exchange of ideas. A small number of book publishers shouldn’t decide which books get published and which do not.
- We brought numerous actions to protect small farmers, family farmers, from powerful middlemen and to protect American consumers from higher prices at the grocery store. For example, we won commitments from chicken processors to pay over $90 million in restitution directly to slaughterhouse workers and to stop anticompetitive conduct that directly affects chicken farmers.
- We recently secured over $220 million in penalties for a criminal conspiracy by drug companies to raise drug prices — the largest fine ever for a purely domestic cartel. On top of that, we secured $50 million in free pharmaceuticals for people in need and forced the drugmakers to divest the products at the heart of their illegal conspiracy.
Our work also safeguards government and taxpayers from collusion and fraud. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), governments around the world pay 20% more for public projects due to collusion and bid rigging. To combat this, the division leads the Procurement Collusion Strike Force, which combats antitrust crimes related to fraudulent schemes that impact government procurement, grant and program funding. In its short existence, the strike force has been amazingly successful. It has launched more than 100 criminal investigations, secured more than 50 guilty pleas and trial convictions and, most importantly, it saved millions upon millions of dollars for taxpayers.
Mr. Chairman, with your indulgence, I may have to get your input so I can make my own tracker above my lapel, next to my lapel, so I can keep track of the skyrocketing number that we are saving for taxpayers by rooting our procurement collusion fraud.
We are also adapting our own tools to better meet the moment. That is why we are revising the division’s merger guidelines to better reflect the law and to address the realities of our modern economy.
We are also building the technical and substantive infrastructure to address competition questions that arise in connection with artificial intelligence and other complex digital tools.
And, last year, we launched the broadest enforcement effort on record ever to enforce Section 8 of the Clayton Act, an important statute that prohibits individuals or their representatives from serving on the boards of competing companies.
But we can’t do this alone.
Finally, I’d like to take a moment to share my regard for the Antitrust Division’s staff, some of whom are with me here today. They are among the most exceptional and talented attorneys, economists, paralegals, agents and professional staff in the country. Simply put, I am honored each day to work with them. Because of their hard work and perseverance, I am optimistic that together we will be able to meet the moment and the competitive challenges of our future.
Thank you again for the opportunity to appear here today. I look forward to working with Congress to strengthen antitrust enforcement, and I am happy to answer your questions.