U.S. competition to top Biden agenda at Monday meeting

·2-min read
General view of the White House in Washington

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden has summoned 18 Cabinet secretaries and agency heads to the White House on Monday to further hash out plans to promote competition in the hopes of lowering prices and increasing wages for Americans.

A White House official said Biden would launch this third meeting of his Competition Council since signing a July 2021 executive order to crack down on anti-competitive practices in sectors from agriculture to drugs and labor.

Biden plans to "preview the actions expected from agencies in the weeks and months ahead that will save families money and lower costs," the official said of the previously unreported meeting.

The council, which last met in January, is chaired by White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese, who said in July that Biden aims to "generate more innovation, greater productivity, more opportunity in the country while lowering prices for consumers and increasing wages for workers."

The administration has taken steps to promote competition in sectors that include the meat industry and among U.S. airlines.

The 18 officials invited include Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Federal Trade Commission chair Lina Khan.

Also invited are the heads of the Surface Transportation Board, Federal Maritime Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Rohit Chopra and Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Federal Communications Commission chair Jessica Rosenworcel will attend virtually, the official added.

Last month, the Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids, allowing millions of Americans to buy them without seeing an audiologist and potentially saving individuals thousands of dollars.

The FTC has pushed companies to make it easier for people to fix their own products.

In July, Weber-Stephen Products LLC, the maker of Weber grills, agreed to scrap some warranty rules as part of an FTC settlement over consumers' rights to repair products that they purchase.

The White House noted the FCC has taken steps to lower internet costs by cracking down on exclusivity arrangements in which landlords and internet providers limit tenants to one provider.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Howard Goller)