House Antitrust Subcommittee chairman David Cicilline (D-R.I.) is leading a push by some Hill Democrats to include a moratorium on all but distress sale mergers during the pandemic.
They want to add a provision to the next COVID-19 aid bill that prevents any corporate mergers that "do not involve the purchase of a severely distressed company."
They argue that "powerful corporations and private equity firms" are ready to unfairly exploit the crisis for their own financial gain unless Congress steps in to insure that companies use cash reserves to help employees, not "acquire more power," as backer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.
Cicilline, Ocasio-Cortez and others wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), citing mergers during the great recession.
"Mega-mergers and corporate takeovers permitted by enforcers during the last economic crisis led, in several major instances, to the firing of millions of workers, slowing of investment in innovation, and huge increases in executive bonuses," they said. "Amid the current crisis—with millions of Americans facing unemployment and millions of businesses facing potential extinction—the antitrust agencies are once again swiftly approving corporate deal-making. If Congress does not act, predatory mergers and takeovers will enable a small number of investors and executives to further concentrate wealth and control at the expense of workers and independent business."
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