The Senate’s 50-50 vote, along party lines, to advance President Biden’s nomination of Alvaro Bedoya to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says less about Senate Republicans’ views on Bedoya as a nominee than it does about their view of the FTC. The vote stands in stark contrast to the 69-28 confirmation of Lina Khan as an FTC Commissioner less than a year ago and officially indicates a consensus among Republican Senators that they are wary of the Commission’s agenda and ability to overreach.
They have good reason to be wary. Under President Biden and Chair Khan, the FTC has spent much of its time attempting to implement a far-left agenda by knocking down procedural guardrails, issuing a strategic plan to promote values such as “racial equity”, introducing unrelated issues such as climate risk into merger review, and undermining constitutional due process, all while spending very little time actually doing its job of enforcing our competition laws.
Today’s vote indicates that Senate Republicans have not forgotten that they were deliberately misled by the White House and their Democratic colleagues into believing that Lina Khan would not be the chair of the Commission if confirmed. Once confirmed, the administration pulled a bait-and-switch and immediately appointed Khan as chair. Nor have Republicans forgotten that after former-Commissioner Rohit Chopra’s confirmation as chair of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), he continued to cast tie-breaking votes—what some have called “zombie votes”—at the FTC.
Republican opposition and the resulting six-month long 2-2 deadlock at the FTC created by Senate inaction on Bedoya’s nomination was not enough to rein in a runaway FTC.
Eventually, it may be that it will be left to the courts to do so. Until then, the Federal Trade Commission appears to be well-insulated against any meaningful form of Congressional oversight.