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Newly formed White House council to promote competition across US economy to hold first meeting

CNN logo CNN 9/10/2021 By Kate Sullivan, CNN
a large white building with a grassy field with White House in the background: WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 13: President Donald Trump's motorcade arrives at the White House on May 13, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images) © Zach Gibson/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 13: President Donald Trump's motorcade arrives at the White House on May 13, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

A newly formed White House council to promote competition across the US economy and lower costs for American families is holding its first meeting on Friday in the Roosevelt Room at the White House.

The White House will be rolling out a new website for this council, called the White House Competition Council, on Friday, a White House official told CNN. The group, which consists of eight Cabinet members and the chairs of seven independent agencies, was formed following an executive order President Joe Biden signed in July to promote competition within the economy.

In the meeting, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese "will drive home that promoting competition is a cornerstone of POTUS' Build Back Better agenda, and emphasize that it plays a key role in delivering on the (administration's) strategy to drive down prices for consumers," the official said.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Attorney General Merrick Garland, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack "will present deep dives on the work they've been doing in this vein," according to the official.

"This meeting will underscore that the (executive order) was just the floor and that the President expects agencies to keep building out their competition agendas in addition to executing on the EO," the official said.

The official said agencies will be called on in this meeting to come up with new and creative ways to promote competition. As chair of the Competition Council, Deese will task each agency to come back to the council's next meeting with at least one new initiative, the official said.

In July, Biden signed a sweeping executive order to promote competition in the US economy, parts of which target a key business strategy used by Silicon Valley companies. The wide-ranging order aims to lower prescription drug prices, ban or limit non-compete agreements that the White House says impede economic mobility and cracks down on Big Tech and internet service providers, among several other provisions.

The White House also highlighted actions the administration has already taken since the signing of the executive order. The official pointed to the Surface Transportation Board working to protect competition in rail and the Federal Maritime Commission looking into surcharges that ocean carriers are charging American shippers, which the White House says drives up costs throughout the supply chain.

The Federal Communications Commission is also looking actions that shut down tenant's access to broadband options, the official said, and the Department of Agriculture is working to combat consolidation in meatpacking.

"The heart of American capitalism is a simple idea: Open and fair competition. That means that if your companies want to win your business, they have to go out and they have to up their game," Biden said when he signed the executive order earlier this summer.

"Let me be very clear: Capitalism without competition isn't capitalism. It's exploitation," Biden said.

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