Statement of Peter W. Rodino, Jr.
on the 25th Anniversary of Hart-Scott-Rodino
Chairman Muris, Commissioners and Guests, I am honored by your invitation to join you to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Hart-Scott-Rodino. I wish I could be with you in person, but at the tender age of 92, I have allowed myself the small luxury to stop making the Newark-Washington trip that was so much a part of my life when I served as the "People's Representative." That was then a good part of my life -- almost 1/5 the lifetime of our Republic. Of course, I am proud to have played a role in the enactment of this important anti-trust provision. In my years away from Congress, people generally associate me with two events - Watergate, of course. But also, much to my surprise, Hart-Scott-Rodino, especially during my post-Congress law practice when other practitioners of anti-trust would say: "Oh, you're that Rodino!" This just goes to show what a difference the legislation has made in the enforcement of the merger laws. Together, we stopped "midnight mergers." I'm sure I don't have to tell the FTC about the harm that some of these mergers could cause - the harm could be irreparable. The government spent years in litigation fighting just one merger. But even when it won, competition was often impossible to restore. The merged company already had closed plants, cut jobs and scrambled assets. Consumers ended up the losers, left paying higher prices. That had to be corrected.
Hart-Scott-Rodino was intended to give the anti-trust agencies two things: critical information about a proposed merger and time to analyze that information and prepare a case, if necessary. From what I hear, the legislation absolutely has transformed merger enforcement. competition, as well as the consumer, has benefitted.
As those of you involved in its enactment know, the legislation enjoyed broad support. It was also many years in the making. President Eisenhower urged its adoption in the 1950s. Attorney General Robert Kennedy backed it in the 1960s. And in the 1970s, we finally got it through with the support of President Ford, Attorney General Edward Levi, Assistant Attorney General Tom Kauper and two chairmen of the Federal Trade Commission - Lewis Engman and Paul Rand Dixon.
Of course, though memory dims somewhat over the passage of time, it does not blur the picture of, nor lessen the impact on me, of my predecessor, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, my mentor, Manny Celler; nor does it blur the significant role of my then counterpart, Ted Kennedy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Nor can I forget the effectiveness of the bipartisan contribution of Hugh Scott during our deliberations. But the picture which stands out so memorably is that of Phil Hart, whose strength of character and effective but quiet leadership commanded the respect of the Conference and carried the day. Senator Hart would be proud of the way this legislation has changed merger enforcement.
I congratulate you on this 25th Anniversary.
Peter W. Rodino, Jr.