By: Jennifer Mills
Noah Phillips, a Republication commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), has announced his plans to step down in the fall.
According to reports by POLITICO, his departure only adds to an already tense environment at the commission, as skepticism of the agency has escalated in the past year with new Chair Lina Khan, a progressive Democrat, setting her eyes on tech giants and pursuing antitrust legislation to thwart corporate consolidation within the U.S.
Phillips is one of just two Republicans sitting on the commission, and the timing of his leaving may fall before midterm elections. If this is the case, it could swell the existing division between political parties as they battle over his replacement, though precedent would likely still see a Republican in his seat. (A sitting President normally looks to the opposing party for minority commissioner selection).
Phillips shared his intentions by memo with FTC staff Aug. 8, according to the news article, and stated his main reason for exiting the agency was “about prioritizing his family” though he further acknowledged “his sense that other commissioners weren’t open to discussion or compromise.”
Currently, there is a Democrat majority of 3-2, with Khan joined by Rebecca Slaughter and Alvaro Bedoya, who replaced Rohit Chopra.
Phillips has sat on the commission for just over four years, joined by fellow Republican Christine Wilson. On several occasions since Khan’s appointment last year, he stated that he and Wilson “have openly sparred with her over policy and enforcement priorities and her management of the agency,” according to POLITICO. This may just be a peek into the low morale and dissatisfaction reported with FTC staff once Khan stepped
into office. Disagreement is one thing, but Phillips also pointed to Khan’s “refusing input from
How selection of Phillips’ replacement plays out will now depend on the Senate Commerce Committee, which has FTC oversight. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is expected to serve as chair or as its ranking member. And while he has praised Khan in the past, he has not been as supportive of Bedoya, says POLITICO.
The news source also reported that current Senate Commerce ranking member Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) is expected to participate in discussions. Wicker was initially favorable of Khan’s nomination, but he has recently shared concerns about her management of the agency.
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