In a letter to the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, Americans for Tax Reform lent its support to the SHIELD Act (HR 5118) and the STALL Act (HR 5097), which would instill much needed reforms in the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Currently, the FTC has been able to avoid both congressional and judicial checks on its authority by operating under a system of “soft law” that treats guidelines and recommendations as binding legal edicts. This places an unnecessary burden on small businesses who have to comply with complex guidelines that are unchecked by any branch of government. HR 5118 remedies this and reins in the power of the FTC to circumvent proper oversight.

HR 5097 will help companies suffering from long, drawn-out cases with the FTC. The FTC can currently take action against a company for an infinite time period. HR 5097 limits that to six months and helps small businesses avoid frivolous legal fees, and emboldens them to litigate, instead of settle by limiting the amount of time the FTC can hinder their business.

These concerns and more have been reflected in the testimonies of people such as Berin Szoka, the President of TechFreedom, and Geoffrey Manne, the Executive Director at the International Center for Law and Economics. Their testimony can be found here.

The full text of the Americans for Tax Reform statement can be seen below:

May 24, 2016

Dear Members of Subcommittee on Commerce Manufacturing and Trade:

We urge you to support both H.R. 5118, the SHIELD Act, and H.R. 5097, the

It is Congress’ job to provide rules for administrative agencies to follow.

Both the SHIELD and the STALL Acts set reasonable clarification and parameters of Federal Trade Commission enforcement action authority.

The SHIELD Act makes it clear that a violation of current law must take place before an FTC investigation can be pursued. Guidelines and recommendations are suggestions as to how a law can be followed; however, pursuing a different path that still complies with law does not warrant FTC enforcement action.

The uncertainty of an open-ended investigation in which no action has taken place for more than six months leaves is harassing. Individuals may have no idea how to prepare and could sit in a paralyzing state of limbo. The STALL Act, requires that investigations close if no action has been taken in six months. It is reasonable to expect an investigating agency to investigate within a six month timeline.

We encourage the Subcommittee to move these bills for full Committee consideration. 

Please contact Katie McAuliffe by email, [email protected], or phone, 202-785-0266, with any questions or comments.


Grover G. Norquist