House Antitrust Leaders Bow to Monopolists with THUD Amendment Support

November 6, 2023 Press Release

Washington, D.C. —As the House considers the Fiscal Year 2024 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies bill—an appropriations bill carrying a dangerous amendment, supported by House antitrust subcommittee chair Thomas Massie (R-KY) and ranking member Lou Correa (D-CA), to neuter the competition authorities of the Department of Transportation and other enforcers—the American Economic Liberties Project released the following statement:

“At a time when the airline industry is more consolidated than ever, and airlines like JetBlue and Spirit are looking to accelerate this trend, it’s outrageous to prohibit the Department of Transportation from addressing giant airlines’ harms to American passengers and airline workers,” said Morgan Harper, Director of Policy and Advocacy At the American Economic Liberties Project. “In supporting this amendment, Representatives Correa and Massie are siding with corporate monopolies and airline executives and turning their backs on American passengers and workers, who on a bipartisan basis support reining in this abusive industry.

The American air travel industry has undergone significant consolidation in recent decades, leading to higher prices, reduced services in several key cities, and numerous labor concerns. Now JetBlue and Spirit are trying to merge, which JetBlue’s own documents indicate would increase Spirit fares up to 40%. Earlier this year, the Department of Justice sued to block the merger, with the Department of Transportation endorsing the suit—a move in line with the Biden administration’s ‘‘all-of-government’’ approach to promoting competition. In attempting to limit DOT and other agencies’ competition authorities, Representatives Correa and Massie’s preferences find themselves out of step with this Administration and the American public.

Furthermore, the amendment would prohibit any agency receiving appropriated funds through THUD from conducting competition-related analyses. This includes prohibiting the Department of Housing and Urban Development from conducting any competition-related analyses, even as Americans struggle with rising rental costs, and corporate landlords are caught price-fixing in rental markets. The Surface Transportation Board, responsible for the railroad industry, would also be prohibited from such analysis, even as the number of Class I railroads has fallen from 40 to just 6 since 1980.

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The American Economic Liberties Project works to ensure America’s system of commerce is structured to advance, rather than undermine, economic liberty, fair commerce, and a secure, inclusive democracy. Economic Liberties believes true economic liberty means entrepreneurs and businesses large and small succeed on the merits of their ideas and hard work; commerce empowers consumers, workers, farmers, and engineers instead of subjecting them to discrimination and abuse from financiers and monopolists; foreign trade arrangements support domestic security and democracy; and wealth is broadly distributed to support equitable political power.