President Joe Biden is asking for a $100 million increase in the fiscal year 2024 budget for the Justice Department’s antitrust division, underscoring his focus on enforcing against companies’ anticompetitive conduct.
“Vigorous marketplace competition through robust enforcement of antitrust law can help reduce costs and raise wages,” according to the Budget of the US Government for Fiscal Year 2024 released Thursday.
The antitrust division, which had a $225 million budget in fiscal year 2023, will likely receive only a fraction of the increase sought by the administration.
Even in the last Congress, with both chambers under Democratic control, Biden’s request to increase the antitrust division budget by $88 million for the current fiscal year was knocked down to just a $25 million increase.
Biden’s request for fiscal 2024, which begins Oct. 1, goes to a divided Congress, where Republicans control the House and funding levels for the various federal agencies will ultimately be decided.
Division chief Jonathan Kanter has repeatedly cited the agency’s lack of resources and low staffing numbers. The division has nearly 230 fewer staffers than it did in 1979, Kanter said in February.
Under Kanter, the division has challenged a wide variety of mergers, litigating against more deals in fiscal 2023 than in any previous fiscal year, Kanter said at a Senate hearing in September.
The division has had mixed success under Kanter. It successfully blocked Penguin Random House’s $2.2 billion plan to acquire rival publishing house Simon & Schuster on the grounds the tie-up would drive down pay to the most successful authors.
Kanter has led the division’s recent labor-market antitrust cases, its pursuit of directors who sit on the boards of multiple competing companies, and its reinvigoration of criminal monopoly cases. The division recently announced a lawsuit against
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