Thursday, February 08, 2007

Bills Would Extend Term of Antitrust Modernization Commission

Proposals to extend the term of the Antitrust Modernization Commission (AMC) by 30 days were introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 742) and Senate (S. 480) on January 31 and February 1, respectively. H.R. 742 was passed by the House on a voice vote on February 7.

The Commission was created in 2002 to examine the need to modernize the federal antitrust laws, solicit public comment concerning the operation of the antitrust laws, evaluate current practices and proposals for change, and submit recommendations to Congress and the President.

The Antitrust Modernization Commission Act instructed the Commission to submit a report containing its findings and recommendations to Congress and the President within three years of its first meeting. (The report is due April 2, 2007.) The Commission was then required to disband within 30 days of the deadline for submitting the report. The proposed legislation would extend the period for the Commission's termination to 60 days after the report deadline.

Explaining the need for the measure, House bill sponsor Rep. John Conyers (Michigan), voiced a concern by Commission members that dismantling the Commission would require it to begin archiving its records prior to completion of the report, which would likely affect the integrity of the report. Senate bill sponsor Herb Kohl (Wisconsin) similarly urged his fellow senators to grant the AMC extra time to close out its operations, noting the Commission's limited staff resources and its need yet to transfer acquired property to other government agencies.

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