On May 18, the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Acting chairwoman told Congress that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s opposition to legislation that would authorize the FTC to obtain monetary remedies under Section 13(b) of the FTC Act was based on “numerous misstatements and faulty premises.” Chairwoman Slaughter’s comments highlight the FTC’s concern that the Supreme Court’s decision in AMG Capital Management (discussed here), which held that Section 13(b) of the FTC Act does not authorize the FTC to obtain equitable monetary remedies, “deprived the FTC of its strongest tool to help consumers.”
In its April 19 letter (available here), the Chamber noted that it has “significant concerns” with the FTC-endorsed legislation, as “it seeks to dramatically extend FTC authority [under Section 13(b)] in unbounded ways” and does not include “safeguards against misuse” of that authority.
In her May 18 letter (available here), Chairwoman Slaughter disputed the Chamber’s position. She argued that Congress never intended to limit Section 13(b) in the ways suggested by the Chamber, and also that adding the Chamber’s proposed limits on the FTC authority would “hurt consumers” and “makes no sense.”
Our Take. Congress will probably pass legislation authorizing the FTC to obtain monetary remedies via Section 13(b) of the FTC Act. But the Chamber’s opposition suggests that Congress may not act quickly, and that the final version of the legislation may place real and important limits on the FTC’s authority under Section 13(b).