Klobuchar, Grassley urge DOJ to prevent price gouging

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, called Wednesday, April 8, on the U.S. Department of Justice to take vigorous action to protect consumers from price gouging during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter to Attorney General William Barr, the senators urged the department to vigorously enforce Executive Order 13910, which was issued to help prevent such conduct, and to request information about the department’s current and planned efforts to address this problem.

“Weeks ago, during the initial stages of the pandemic, we began to see troubling reports of price gouging and hoarding of all kinds of products, including essential medical supplies that health care workers need to diagnose, treat, and stem the spread of COVID-19. Such practices not only impose unjustifiable costs on those who need these medical and health supplies, they also exacerbate existing supply shortages, threatening public health and safety,” the letter stated.

“The ultimate effectiveness of the executive order in preventing hoarding and price gouging relating to essential health and medical resources will depend on the enforcement efforts of the Justice Department and effective coordination between the department, HHS, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and state enforcement authorities,” the letter continued.

Last month, Klobuchar called on the Federal Trade Commission to use the full extent of its authority to prevent abusive price gouging on consumer health products during the coronavirus pandemic. Klobuchar also introduced the Disaster and Emergency Pricing Abuse Prevention Act, a bill that would prohibit the selling, or offering for sale, of essential goods and services at excessive prices during or in anticipation of a natural disaster, pandemic or state of emergency.

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