September 22, 2006

Senate Commerce Committee Delays Vote on Nominee to Head FTC

Senator Wyden's Objections to Majoras' Nomination Shared by Committee Members; Wyden calls for Further Hearings

WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation today delayed further consideration of the nomination of Deborah Majoras to become the Chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Today, because of a procedural rule invoked by Senator Wyden (D-Ore.), the Committee was blocked from considering Ms. Majoras' nomination. "I took this extraordinary step to send a clear message that protecting consumers is of the utmost importance, especially in the face of record high gas and energy prices," said Wyden. "I fully expect the next chair of the Federal Trade Commission to immediately get in the game on the issue of gasoline prices, and this nominee has significant and ongoing conflicts of interest regarding one of the nation's biggest oil companies." In blocking Majoras' nomination, Wyden was careful not to prevent the Committee from considering other pending business besides Majoras' nomination, including a series of bills that were reported out of the Committee today. Wyden has placed a "hold" on Majoras' nomination. Wyden, who has repeatedly called on the FTC in the current and previous Administrations to take action to protect consumers from high gasoline prices, received no indication from Majoras that under her leadership the agency would take any steps to end numerous and well-documented anti-competitive practices that drive up gasoline prices nationwide and particularly in the Northwest. Wyden has called for further hearings into the conclusions of a recent GAO report that found oil mergers approved by the FTC had increased gasoline prices by as much as seven cents per gallon, and what Majoras would do as FTC Chair to protect consumers from impacts of oil mergers the FTC may consider in the future. He remains hopeful that hearings will be arranged shortly to explore these issues further. A number of consumer advocacy groups, including the Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, the U.S Public Interest Research Group and Common Cause, have sent letters to the Senate Commerce Committee, raising serious concerns about Majoras' nomination.