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Bipartisan merger fee bill heads to Senate floor

Sen. Klobuchar's legislation to change merger filing fees is a first step in an era of hopes for antitrust reform

An illustration of bank checks floating on a blue background.

A bipartisan bill heading to the Senate floor would update the fees companies pay when they disclose deals. It is a prelude to the push for antitrust reform.

Image: Frant / Protocol

A bipartisan bill led by Sen. Amy Klobuchar to alter the fees that companies pay when they disclose pending deals will head toward the Senate floor after passing out of committee on Thursday.

The legislation, which has support from the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stands out as one of the only recent antitrust bills to get through a committee, although its modest ambitions may signal the hurdles that larger efforts would face.

Klobuchar, who chairs the Senate subcommittee on antitrust law, is one of several legislators hoping to revamp antitrust law, particularly over concerns about consolidation in tech.

Under existing law, companies planning a merger or acquisition over a certain threshold — $92 million, for 2021 — must first notify regulators about their plans and seek clearance. The fees associated with those filings, currently between $45,000 and $280,000, have not increased since 2001. Klobuchar's bill would lower the fee for smaller deals, raise it for larger ones and send the increased revenue to enforcers to boost their resources.

"The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice Antitrust Division shouldn't have to fight some of the largest monopolies in history with duct tape and Band-Aids," Klobuchar said in a statement.

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