WASHINGTON, Sept 29 (Reuters) -
The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a
bill that would sharply raise fees for antitrust reviews of the
biggest mergers and strengthen state attorneys general in
The bipartisan bill, which has yet to pass the U.S. Senate,
combines a merger fee bill introduced by Representative Joe
Neguse, a Democrat, and a measure to mandate that state
attorneys general can pick the venue for antitrust lawsuits,
which was introduced by Representative Ken Buck, a Republican.
The bill, which passed the House 242-184, is one of several
measures under consideration that would strengthen antitrust
enforcers to rein in Big Tech.
One bill would bar Big Tech companies like Alphabet's
Google and Amazon.com from preferencing their
own products on platforms while another addresses Apple's
and Google's clout in their app stores. Hopes are
dimming that they will become law this year.
The legislation the House approved on Thursday would lower
fees paid for antitrust reviews of smaller deals to as little as
$30,000. Bigger deals would be more expensive. Deals worth $5
billion or more would pay $2.25 million for their review.
A previous version of the filing fee bill had included
budget increases for the U.S. Justice Department's Antitrust
Division and the Federal Trade Commission, but those have been
removed, according to a congressional aide.
The U.S. Senate has passed a bill giving state attorneys
general the right to pick the venue for antitrust fights but has
not passed a measure to update merger filing fees.
Texas, along with other states, brought an antitrust action
against Alphabet Inc's Google in 2020 that the search
and advertising giant succeeded in moving from Texas to a New
York court, angering conservatives.
In the Senate, the House bill has attracted public support
from Republicans Mike Lee, Chuck Grassley and Tom Cotton as well
as Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Dick Durbin. It is not
immediately known when or if the Senate will vote on the bill.
Opposition to the bill included Representative Zoe Lofgren,
a California Democrat, who joined with at least four other
Democrats from the home state of Silicon Valley, urging that the
bill be defeated because of the venue measure. California is
home to some of the biggest tech companies, including Google and
Meta Platforms' Facebook.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz and Richard Cowan; Editing by
Franklin Paul, Jonathan Oatis and David Gregorio)