Womack Remarks at FY24 Budget Hearing for the Federal Trade Commission (As Prepared)

Apr 27, 2023

The Subcommittee will come to order. I'd like to remind everyone that we will follow the five-minute rule for opening remarks, questions, and comments. Members will be recognized in order of seniority based on who is seated at the beginning of the hearing rotating between the parties. Members that arrive after the gavel will be recognized in the order of arrival. 

I would like to welcome everybody to the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government.

I would like to welcome back to the Subcommittee, Chair of the Federal Trade Commission, Lina Khan. 

As we all know, Congress is locked in a fierce debate regarding the fiscal trajectory of our nation. 

One path, the path that we have been on, leads to the $31 trillion debt mountain that skyrocketed inflation to 40-year highs and has, most recently, resulted in a rising interest rate environment. 

Excessive spending has consequences. 

The other path, which will require constraint, control, and cooperation, has the makings of fiscal responsibility.

Now, during this debate, my colleagues on the other side have said that our plans to examine, and potentially limit our reckless spending to fiscal year 22 levels is “draconian” and “drastic.” 

I would like to point out to my friends that the fiscal year 23 spending bill was settled only a few months ago. That means, we just started to operate at 23 levels. 

The sky didn’t fall for federal agencies during fiscal year 22. 

Given this debate, it is appropriate for this subcommittee to carefully examine the budget for all of the agencies that fall under our jurisdiction. 

Today, we will explore the FTC’s budget request that is asking for $160 million more dollars over last year’s enacted levels. 

This is once again a significant funding level for an independent agency that has received yearly increases.   

Requests of this magnitude must be explained and justified thoroughly. 

Questions of whether the FTC is performing its critical mission of protecting consumers and promoting competition appropriately need to be asked. 

Unfortunately, a once bipartisan Commission has been reduced to one-party rule and we are witnessing the effects of this change. 

The FTC, with a cavalier attitude, is weighing in on areas that are outside of its authority and deciding on issues through subjective means. 

We all agree that the work conducted to protect our seniors and our military through the FTC’s consumer protections is critically important. 

But, expanding the scope and following a philosophy of “big is bad” for its antitrust work is dangerous.

Competition has always been measured through pricing and product availability, as well as the dynamic nature of business innovation.

Moving beyond the objective to the subjective is discouraging to all kinds of business activity. 

Chair Khan, these are important topics and I look forward to today’s discussion, but to be clear, to no surprise, I can’t support such a massive increase for the FTC’s budget, especially given the Commission’s recent track record and given the nation’s current fiscal outlook.  

With that, I now recognize my colleague and sitting in for our Ranking Member from Maryland - Mr. Hoyer - Mr. Pocan, for his five-minute opening statement.