The House Small Business Committee took a first step toward restoring fair competition throughout the economy by unanimously green-lighting the Main Street Competes Act (H.R. 5424), and the Main Street Competition Coalition is calling on Congress to quickly pass the bipartisan bill.
The bill, introduced by U.S. Reps. Hillary Scholten (MI-03) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03), would give the Small Business Administration more power to work with the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice in cracking down on anticompetitive business practices. It also gives the SBA a mandate to track antitrust enforcement and make sure that small businesses are competing on a level field.
“By fostering a competitive economy, we enable small businesses to flourish alongside larger corporations and ensure that consumers can access high-quality products and services at fair market prices,” Scholten said.
“By requiring the Small Business Administration to evaluate FTC and DOJ efforts to protect small businesses from unfair competition and provide legislative recommendations for Congress, the Main Street Competes Act enhances federal efforts to build a vibrant economy in which small businesses can thrive.”
Luetkemeyer commented, “Although antitrust enforcement intends to promote competition, there is no data on the effectiveness of these laws in supporting small businesses. We cannot assume well-intentioned legislation meets the mark without diligent review and objective proof. This common-sense bill grants SBA’s Office of Advocacy the authority to oversee whether current antitrust laws and strategies are effective in their purpose, and I am proud to support it.”
The Main Street Competition Coalition, a group representing business owners harmed by unfair exercises of market power, endorsed the legislation.
“Members of the House Small Business Committee recognize that this is an urgent issue that transcends partisan politics, and it reaches out to the small businesses at the heart of Main Street America,” said Chris Jones, head of the Main Street Competition Coalition, and SVP and counsel with the National Grocers Association.
“This bill will help put government watchdogs back on the job after decades of inactivity that have allowed the biggest businesses to exploit their market power by undercutting their competitors and trading partners. We’re hoping that members of Congress from both sides cast a vote for fairness and competition.”
Greg Ferrara, NGA president and CEO, said, “On behalf of America’s independent grocers, we applaud Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer and Hillary Scholten for their forward-thinking leadership in tackling anticompetitive behavior that undermines the vitality of small businesses. Antitrust laws, such as the Robinson-Patman Act, have languished without robust enforcement for a generation, exacting a heavy toll on independent community grocers, and felt both upstream and downstream from agricultural producers to consumers.
“It’s only common sense that the Small Business Administration, as the champion of small businesses in the federal arena, critically assesses whether antitrust enforcement is fulfilling its fundamental objective of fostering a competitive landscape where Main Street businesses can thrive.”
The Main Street Competition Coalition represents a diverse group of main street businesses and agriculture producers dedicated to revitalizing and reforming U.S. antitrust laws and preventing dominant players from undermining competition and free enterprise. The primary objective of the coalition is to boost competition in retail and wholesale markets, empowering small businesses and enabling consumers to have real choices.
“Small businesses are the backbone of America, allowing for a diverse and resilient economy and creating opportunity for millions of Americans. This small legislative step towards the inclusion of the SBA in antitrust law enforcement will go a long way to providing a level playing field for small businesses. We look forward to the advancement and passage of the Main Street Competes Act,” said Matthew Gardner, president of American MainStreet Products LLC.
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