At Nominations Hearing, Sen. Cruz Discusses Need To Reverse Damage Done to FTC So Agency Can Fulfill Its Bipartisan Mission

September 20, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In his opening statement at today’s Senate Commerce Committee nominations hearing, Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) outlined how Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman Lina Khan has broken the “bipartisan camaraderie” that made the FTC effective and has veered far beyond the bounds of statutory authority to pursue a “plainly partisan agenda.” Senator Cruz emphasized the importance of confirming well-qualified nominees Melissa Holyoak and Andrew Ferguson to the FTC and Doug Dziak to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).


Here are Sen. Cruz’s remarks as prepared for delivery:


“Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. I want to congratulate each of the nominees here today.


“Congress has charged both the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) with important responsibilities. I am pleased that this Committee is working to fill the current vacancies and to bring each agency up to its full capacity.


“The FTC is tasked with protecting American consumers from unfair or deceptive business practices and unfair methods of competition. I look forward to hearing from Melissa Holyoak, Andrew Ferguson, and Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter about their qualifications and vision for the FTC, as well as the current challenges facing the agency.


“CPSC’s mandate is to protect consumers from dangerous products. I look forward to hearing from Doug Dziak today on the considerable expertise he will bring to the CPSC to help it fulfill its mission.


“I previously worked at the FTC as the Director of the Office of Policy Planning, where I helped develop the long-term strategy and policy goals for the agency. My experience gave me great respect for the talented staff at the FTC, who often find themselves at the intersection of technology, consumer protection, and competition. They have the difficult task of considering how to protect American consumers as markets evolve and new technologies emerge.


“When I was at the FTC, I witnessed commissioners of diverse views collegially working together to address new challenges while remaining within the agency’s statutory powers. That bipartisan camaraderie was a defining characteristic of the FTC for many decades and one reason why the agency was often successful. 


“But today’s FTC is sadly unrecognizable from the FTC I knew. Over the past two years, Chairwoman Lina Khan has taken the FTC wildly off course and pursued a plainly partisan agenda well outside the agency’s legal authority and mission.


“Just in the last year alone, the FTC has:


Weaponized its enforcement authority against the Biden administration’s political opponents by pursuing inappropriate and burdensome demands against Twitter;

Pursued unlawful efforts to regulate whole swaths of the U.S. economy under an unprecedented competition rulemaking;

Unlawfully deleted documents, hindering congressional investigations and potential litigation, as well as undermining transparency in government;

Conspired with EU regulators to impose foreign laws on American tech employers so they’d be less globally competitive;

Sought unauthorized regulation of artificial intelligence in a manner that infringes on constitutionally-protected speech and will chill entrepreneurship;

Proposed broad data privacy and security rules without congressional authorization;

Sought to impose expansive premerger notification requirements that would levy a de facto tax on market activity.


“These are but a few of the FTC’s alarming decisions, many of which occurred without input from a single Republican FTC commissioner after the stunning resignation of former Commissioner Christine Wilson.


“In announcing her departure, Wilson said she did not want to give Khan’s endeavor “any further hint of legitimacy by remaining.” I am deeply concerned by Commissioner Wilson’s observations about what has become of the FTC.


“But you need not take my or Commissioner Wilson’s word for it; the data show that the FTC’s staff is depleted and demoralized. According to the most recent OPM Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, less than half of FTC employees agree that FTC “leaders maintain high standards of honesty and integrity.” This reflects a 38-point drop since the start of Chairwoman Khan’s term.


“To me, it’s not surprising that staff morale has dropped during a time of agency overreach. It’s a tangible reminder that the FTC is on the wrong track.


“We must reverse the damage done to the FTC so that it can fulfill its bipartisan mission within the framework provided by Congress. I look forward to hearing from each of our witnesses here today, learning about their qualifications, and better understanding what they hope to bring to their respective agencies.”