WASHINGTON, D.C. — Yesterday, Congressman Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, joined House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Chairman David N. Cicilline (D-RI) introduced the COVID–19 Price Gouging Prevention Act. The bill would prohibit the sale of consumer goods and services at an unconscionably excessive price during the public health emergency declared as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are in the middle of a national emergency that is unlike anything we have faced. There will always be unscrupulous people who use times of crisis for their own personal gain, regardless of how it hurts people. As members of Congress, it is our responsibility to protect the American consumer from price gouging. Working families are already struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table because of the coronavirus pandemic. They should not also have to worry about the cost of milk and eggs skyrocketing because some bad actors sought to prey on struggling families during this crisis,” said Congressman Cárdenas.
The bill provides the following factors for consideration in determining whether price gouging has occurred:
- Whether the price grossly exceeds the average price that the same good or service was sold for the 90-days before January 31, 2020, or during the same 90-day period of the previous year;
- Whether the price grossly exceeds the average price of the same good or service sold by other similarly situated sellers during the same period; and
- Whether the price reasonably reflects additional costs to the seller or the profitability of forgone sales.
After reports of rampant price gouging, false marketing of COVID-19 cure, and fraud, Congressman Cárdenas signed joined several of his colleagues in sending a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urging increased vigilance and enforcement actions against such scams. Last month, after the Congressman was made aware that a company in Los Angeles was scamming Americans by selling them fake COVID-19 testing kits, Cárdenas worked with the FTC and FDA to shut down the operation.
Congressman Cárdenas is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce.
A section by section summary of the bill is available HERE.