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Congressional Committee Hearing Heats Up As House Republicans Slam FTC Budget

 |  July 13, 2023

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan faced scrutiny from Republicans at a Thursday (July 13) House Judiciary Committee Oversight hearing.

Under Khan, the FTC’s budget has ballooned by 30%, with the Biden administration granting an additional $430 million in fiscal year 2023, the New York Post reported Thursday.

Republicans allege that Khan has mismanaged funds and staff, driving down morale while costing taxpayers money, the Guardian reported Thursday.

The disagreement between Republicans and Khan is centered on her handling of big tech, which is suspected of political bias, censorship and monopolizing cultural influence, according to the report.

Read more: FTC Republicans Ask For Evidence In Gasoline Price Probe

Khan has given herself and the FTC “unchecked power” by taking aggressive steps to regulate practices at big tech companies such as Twitter, Meta and Google, said Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in his opening statement, the report said.

Republicans have argued that Khan’s mismanagement and “politicization” of the FTC is resulting in an inability to win cases. The GOP has been quick to point out the sharp decline of motivated FTC staff members, going from 80% in 2020 to 36% in 2022, according to the New York Post report.

“Taxpayers aren’t going to take much delight in legal talent and skill that cost taxpayer dollars and end in defeat. You seem to be losing quite a bit,” said Rep. Kevin Kiley, R-Calif., per the report.

A memo circulated among Republicans ahead of the Thursday hearing further explains, according to the report: “Despite Congress increasing FTC resources from $331 million in FY2020 to $430 million in FY2023 — a 30% increase from the end of the Trump Administration — the FTC’s enforcement of the antitrust and consumer protection laws has significantly declined compared to enforcement efforts under the Trump Administration.”

White House spokesperson Michael Kikukawadefended Khan’s leadership, saying in a statement to the Guardian: “Chair Khan has delivered results for families, consumers, workers, small businesses, and entrepreneurs.”

This hearing came on the same day that it was reported that the FTC is investigating OpenAI for issues around false information and data security. The regulator has sent a letter to the creator of the artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot ChatGPT asking dozens of questions about these issues, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.