Commerce Committee Republicans Oppose Inclusion of Expanded FTC Authority in Financial Services Bill

June 21, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Republican members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee today released a letter to the conferees of the financial services reform legislation recently approved by the Senate, outlining their opposition to the inclusion of expanded Federal Trade Commission (FTC) authority in the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010.  The letter was signed by every Republican member of the Committee, including Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), and Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), John Ensign (R-Nev.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), John Thune (R-S.D.), George S. LeMieux (R-Fla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), David Vitter (R-La.), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.). The FTC expansions were not included in the Senate-passed version of the bill, but were in the legislation approved by the House, and are scheduled to be debated by the conferees.

June 21, 2010

Dear Conferees:

As you prepare the Conference Report for the “Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010,” we strongly urge you not to adopt the expansions of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) authority included in section 4901 of the House-passed version of H.R. 4173.  Among other things, these expansions would remove important checks on the FTC’s rulemaking authority and eliminate current provisions requiring coordination with the Department of Justice.  These changes were not included in the Senate-passed bill, and were not debated in the Senate, yet they would impact thousands of U.S. businesses of all sizes that had no connection whatsoever to the country’s financial meltdown.

During Senate debate on H.R. 4173, Commerce Committee Chairman Rockefeller and Ranking Member Hutchison sponsored a bipartisan amendment to preserve the FTC’s authority under the Federal Trade Commission Act, notwithstanding the creation of a new consumer financial protection agency.  The Rockefeller-Hutchison amendment was accepted by voice vote.  By contrast, we believe the House-passed provisions expanding the FTC’s authority would have faced substantial opposition in the Senate.  While our Committee has held two hearings this Congress at which the FTC expansions were discussed, to date, there has been no debate or vote taken on specific legislative text.  We believe that such significant changes to current law require proper consideration, through regular order, instead of being included in a largely unrelated piece of legislation without ample debate.

Therefore, we respectfully request that these FTC expansions be kept out of the final Conference Report, to allow the Committees of jurisdiction to give them the consideration they deserve.


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