Senate advances Alvaro Bedoya nomination to break FTC deadlock – Deadline

The Senate narrowly pushed Alvaro Bedoya’s nomination to the Federal Trade Commission as Democrats try to end a deadlock in the committee and put forward an agenda likely to take a harder line on consolidation of companies and technology giants.

The vote on Wednesday was 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a tie. The Senate Commerce Committee split 14-14 on the nomination earlier this month, meaning Democrats would have to use a more complicated legislative maneuver to move forward through a so-called discharge petition. Bedoya now gets even more votes in the Senate for confirmation, but that could happen if all members of the Democratic caucus stick together.

The FTC under chairman Lina Khan did not challenge Amazon’s acquisition of MGM before the two companies closed the transaction, which disappointed some unions and public interest groups who had urged the agency to crack down. But any attempt to challenge the merger would likely have been complicated by the FTC’s lack of a Democratic majority, given the expectation that two Republican commissioners were expected to vote against contesting the transaction.

Still, the Writers Guild of America, Teamsters and other groups have urged the FTC to continue to challenge the transaction even after the merger. An FTC spokesperson also does not rule out such a scenario. “The FTC does not comment on certain matters. We reiterate, however, that the Commission does not approve transactions and can challenge a deal at any time if it determines it violates the law,” the spokesperson said.

Republicans opposed Bedoya’s nomination, arguing that he would be too partisan for the agency, citing some of his previous social media posts.

It is not yet clear when the Senate will transfer Gigi Sohn’s nomination to the FCC. That nomination was also stuck on the Senate Commerce Committee.

Bedoya is the founder and director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law.

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