Sen. Chuck Grassley

Senator Chuck Grassley.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he’ll be calling officials with AT&T and Time-Warner before the Judiciary Committee he chairs to answer questions about the proposed $85 billion-dollar merger.

Grassley, a Republican, says when a business deal of this magnitude appears, it demands a “robust review” because there are typically results that don’t favor consumers.

Grassley says, “Just kind of a rule of thumb: less competition, higher prices, less choice and even less quality.” The combining of one of the nation’s largest telecommunications providers with a media and entertainment giant is “the biggest deal of the year,” according to Grassley. He says it’s “imperative” antitrust regulators conduct a thorough investigation of the proposed acquisition. The Senate Judiciary Committee can and will conduct oversight, according to Grassley, and he’ll ask questions about the transaction, including calling a hearing to examine the impact on competition and consumers.

Grassley says, “I don’t know whether it’ll be a hearing at the full committee level or the subcommittee level, but we have a responsibility to make sure the various government agencies do their due diligence and make sure the law is followed.” Grassley also mentioned three other mergers that have him concerned, all in the seed and agri-chemical industry: Dow-DuPont, Syngenta-ChemChina and Monsanto-Bayer.

“If those proposed deals are allowed to go forward, Iowa farmers and consumers, I believe, will see some major changes,” Grassley says. The impact on competition could be enormous, dramatic and widely damaging, he says and adds: we can’t “ignore the impact on farmers and consumers of reduced competition that comes from the proposed mergers.”

Grassley wants the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be consulted as the billion-dollar ag deals loom, saying the U.S.D.A. should be included by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission due to “the complex and dynamic nature of the industry.”