Thought Leadership

Biden Administration First 100 Days Weekly Report - Episode 7

Client Updates

In our latest installment of our video series on important regulatory and legislative events in the first 100 days of the Biden Administration, Partner Alexandra Dunn provides an update on the new Secretary of Labor, Marty Walsh.

Associate Emily Hutson gives us the latest Antitrust update which includes the nomination of Lina Khan to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the recent ABA Antitrust Spring Meeting.

We will continue to provide weekly updates on the relevant administrative and legislative actions through the first 100 days.

This week the Senate confirmed Marty Walsh as Secretary of Labor in a 68-29 vote. Prior to his confirmation, Walsh was Mayor of Boston for seven years. A long-time Union member and former president, he is the first union labor secretary since the 1970s.

During his confirmation hearing, Walsh emphasized his union background and successes as Mayor of Boston. He reiterated his support for a national minimum wage increase, paid family leave, and the Protecting the Right to Organize Act. Walsh also said he “looks forward to working with the Biden Administration to make OSHA a priority” and pledged to rebuild Department staff, stating that “if we increase standards and do not increase inspectors, then we don’t protect workers.”

Walsh had a strong track record on climate change as Mayor of Boston. Time will tell if and how this will inform his role as Labor Secretary and fit into President Biden’s Build Back Better recovery plan.

On March 22, Joe Biden nominated Lina Khan for one of the two empty Commissioner posts at the FTC. Khan is a vocal critic of the big tech industry and proponent of strong antitrust enforcement and reforms. Generally, democrats support the nomination of Ms. Khan, while some republicans have expressed concerns about the extremity of her views on antitrust reform.

This week, the ABA Antitrust Law Section held its annual Spring Meeting in a virtual format. The Spring Meeting holds panels and social events to connect antitrust practitioners from all over the world, as well as politicians, lobbyists, economists and other antitrust and competition experts.

At one Spring Meeting panel, Marvin Price Jr. stated that although the Biden administration has yet to name a permanent replacement for Delrahim, the agency has “not hesitated and will not hesitate to move our investigations forward during the transition.” He also stated that the DOJ expects to bring more criminal antitrust cases focused on price-fixing and labor markets.

In addition, Kathleen S. O’Neill, noted at that merger filings are coming in at an “unprecedented volume,” which is likely to result in a larger number of DOJ challenges. It is possible that due to the increase in such filings, it could take longer for the enforcement agencies to conduct merger reviews.

During a panel Wednesday, Klobuchar made general statements on both the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) and the Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act (CALERA). She noted that opportunities for major revisions to US antitrust law are rare, calling the proposed legislation a “once-in-a-century moment.”

Klobuchar predicts that the provisions of CALERA that provide additional funding for the FTC and DOJ’s enforcement resources is likely to pass with broad bipartisan support, noting that without an increase in enforcement resources, the agencies are “not going to be able to take on what is essentially the Gilded Age” of big tech in antitrust.

Klobuchar acknowledged that the fate of the JCPA is unclear, but pointed to the fact that Republican Sen. McConnell supported previous versions of the bill, which indicates it is likely to have bipartisan support. If passed, the JCPA would provide a four-year period in which news organizations could collectively negotiate with big tech companies on advertising revenues, without being subject to antitrust scrutiny.

 

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