The House March 23 voted 235-171 to pass the Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act, AHA-supported legislation that would standardize the merger review process for the two federal antitrust agencies.

The legislation is intended to harmonize disparities in the way merger reviews happen between the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), and bring some predictability to the process.

Introduced by Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, the bill would eliminate the FTC’s ability to challenge a transaction without going to court and require the agency to meet the same preliminary injunction standards as the DOJ.

In a letter last June to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack said, “Specifically, while the DOJ litigates its merger cases entirely in federal court before an impartial judge, the FTC has used the difference in authority between the two federal antitrust agencies to subject hospital transactions to what amounts to double jeopardy: commencing administrative litigation while at the same time pursuing a preliminary injunction in federal court. This unfair and punitive tactic should not be permitted.”