Dem wants public review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger agreement

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) is pushing for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to open its proposal approving the T-Mobile-Sprint merger to public input over concerns about the deal’s effect on consumers.

“As I have noted before, the proposed transaction is presumptively illegal under decades of black letter law and the Justice Department’s merger enforcement guidelines,” Cicilline, chairman of the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, wrote in a letter to the FCC.

“Both the original transaction and proposed settlement agreement raise the threat of higher phone bills, less choice, fewer jobs, and worse wages for hardworking Americans,” he added. “The prospect of these harmful effects for working people demands a thorough and transparent review.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced on Wednesday that he had circulated a formal draft order that would approve the deal under conditions laid out by the Department of Justice, namely the selling off of assets to the satellite TV provider Dish so that it can build a fourth wireless competitor.

Though the proposal was circulated Wednesday, the three-member GOP majority at the FCC has already said it will support it. Still, the FCC won’t have final say on the deal; 16 state attorneys general have filed a lawsuit seeking to block the merger.

An FCC spokesperson dismissed the calls for more time to subject the agreement to public scrutiny.