In a significant development, the U.S. Senate has passed a bill that aims to increase the fees that companies would have to pay government antitrust agencies in case of large mergers. As a result, these government agencies will also have bigger budgets.
The proposed legislation, co-sponsored by top antitrust senator Democrat Amy Klobuchar, along with top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley, will see fees lowered for mergers under $161.5 million to $30,000 from $45,000.
Mergers worth $5 billion or more, will see their fees increase to $2.25 million from $280,000.
“Now that my bill with Senator Grassley passed the Senate, the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division are one step closer to having additional resources to conduct rigorous reviews of large mergers,” said Klobuchar in a statement.
The measure was included as part of a Senate package aimed at boosting the country’s ability to compete with China. The proposed law would increase the FTC’s budget to $418 million and the Antitrust Division to $252 million.
Under a budget proposed by the Biden administration, the FTC would get $389.8 million for the next fiscal year. That is an increase from $351 million this year, or about 11%. Also under Biden’s plan, the Antitrust Division would see its budget increase to $201 million from $185 million, an increase of 8.6%.
In a statement Grassley said, “the current system of assessing mergers and working to stop anti-competitive practices was outdated and was not getting the job done,” and went on to add, “I’m glad to see my colleagues in the Senate also recognize this issue and support it (the bill) today”.