The Senate confirmed Alvaro Bedoya to the Federal Trade Commission, giving Democrats a working majority at the agency as it sets its sights on reining in the tech industry and giving proposed mergers and acquisitions much greater scrutiny.
Bedoya was confirmed on a 51-50 party line vote, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie.
The FTC under chair Lina Khan did not challenge Amazon’s acquisition of MGM before the two companies closed their transaction. With the new Democratic majority, there has been some pressure on the FTC by labor and public interest groups to move to unwind the transaction or place restrictions on it.
Once Bedoya is sworn in, he will join Khan and Rebecca Slaughter as the three Democrats on the commission.
“With the FTC at full membership, this important agency will be empowered to drive full steam ahead in cracking down on bad actor companies who are using anticompetitive practices, inflation, and price manipulation to bilk consumers and drive up profit,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.
Republicans opposed the Bedoya nomination by arguing that he would be too partisan for the agency, pointing to some of his past social media posts. Bedoya’s confirmation was delayed after members of the Senate Commerce Committee deadlocked, forcing Schumer to go through a lengthier process to get the nomination to the floor.
The FCC still remains deadlocked 2-2 between Democrats and Republicans. It’s still unclear when the Senate will move to vote on President Joe Biden’s nominee, Gigi Sohn, who would give Democrats a majority on the commission. She has run into opposition from Fox News commentators, the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Senate Republicans, who also have raised issues about her past Twitter posts. But Sohn also has won support from the heads of smaller conservative media outlets like Newsmax and One America News Network, who see her has a champion for smaller, independent media.
Bedoya is the founding director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law. The FTC is expected to move to pass a comprehensive set of privacy rules for internet companies. The FTC and the Justice Department’s antitrust division are in the midst of a review of merger guidelines, with the expectation that they will lead to stricter enforcement.
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