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Republican FTC commissioner Noah Phillips to resign

Republican Federal Trade Commission commissioner Noah Phillips announced he will step down from the agency this fall. Photo courtesy of FTC.
Republican Federal Trade Commission commissioner Noah Phillips announced he will step down from the agency this fall. Photo courtesy of FTC.

Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Republican Federal Trade Commissioner Noah Phillips, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, announced Monday he plans to resign, according to a copy of an email sent to FTC staff.

Phillips, who is one of two Republicans on the five-member Commission, will leave the agency this fall, according to Politico.

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"Serving the American people by working with my extraordinary Commission colleagues and the incredible career staff at the agency to protect American consumers has been the honor of my lifetime," Phillips wrote in the email. "I have learned so much from all of you over the last four years, and am inspired by the commitment you bring to the incredible work of the FTC."

Phillips said he sent President Joe Biden a letter notifying him of his decision to leave the agency, according to the email.

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Phillips, who was confirmed unanimously by the Senate in April 2018, said his reason for departing the FTC three years before his seven-year term expires is to focus on his family.

"Fundamentally more than anything else now is the right time for me and my family," Phillips said.

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But Phillips also blamed a lack of open discussion at the agency and compromise between the commissioners.

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"I have always tried to bring to light the tradeoffs the commission faces in doing the work we do," Phillips said. "And the conversation lately has not accounted for the serious discussion of counterargument."

Since last year's appointment of Democratic Chair Lina Khan, there has been lower staff morale, according to a survey by The Information, and partisan division between the FTC commissioners. Phillips and fellow Republican Commissioner Christine Wilson broke with the Democratic majority on votes to take a tougher stance on antitrust.

The two Republican commissioners also argued earlier this year that Khan's request to increase the budget at the FTC was unwarranted, saying the agency was capable of operating on less funding.

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"The accompanying Congressional Budget Justification provides no roadmap for effectively deploying the dramatic increase in resources it purports to justify, and no assurance that the agency will abandon its present course of deviating from sound legal precedent and the Commission's established jurisdiction," Phillips and Wilson said in a March 2022 statement. "For these reasons, we cannot embrace this budget request."

The nomination process to fill Phillip's seat could be divisive as Congress heads into midterm elections. While Biden is expected to defer to Republicans in the Senate to nominate another minority commissioner, the president could push for someone more aligned with Khan to support his agenda for antitrust enforcement.

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Regardless of who is nominated, Phillips' departure is not expected to impact Khan's goals since the commission will keep its Democratic majority.

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