During an oversight hearing on Thursday, House Republicans strongly criticized Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan for the agency’s recent string of losses in merger enforcement cases. Led by Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, Republicans expressed their concerns about Khan’s two-year tenure, describing it as a “disaster.” They accused her of attempting to reshape the American economy by granting herself and her associates unchecked power over business practices.
One area of contention was the FTC’s oversight of Twitter and its handling of a consent decree from 2011. This consent decree was established after the FTC discovered that Twitter lacked sufficient safeguards to protect user privacy. Rep. Jordan took issue with the agency’s actions following Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, alleging that they engaged in what he called “targeted harassment.” In just three months after the takeover, the FTC reportedly issued over 350 requests for information.
Another point of criticism was the FTC’s track record in court. The recent denial of Khan’s attempt to block Microsoft’s planned acquisition of videogame publisher Activision Blizzard drew backlash from Republicans. The FTC has filed a notice to appeal the ruling. Rep. Darrell Issa of California accused Khan of being a “bully,” pointing out that the agency has half a billion dollars at its disposal to promote policies that he believes unfairly favor consumers at the expense of businesses.
This hearing comes in the wake of previous losses for the FTC, including its failure to prevent Meta’s acquisition of a virtual-reality gaming company and pushback against its decision to block biotech firm Illumina’s planned acquisition of cancer-testing company Grail. It is clear that House Republicans are skeptical of Chair Lina Khan and believe that her leadership is leading the agency astray.