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The Senate approved a mammoth appropriations bill Oct. 27 that includes a provision overhauling the pre-merger notification laws. The House approved an identical bill one day earlier. The legislation now goes to President Clinton, who on Friday reiterated a veto threat. Speaking to reporters in the Rose Garden, Clinton complained that Republican leaders crafted the bill without input from Democrats. As a result, it lacks several measures critical to the administration, including immigration reform and Social Security privacy protections, the president said. “We’ve got to clean them up,” the president said of the spending package, which includes the District of Columbia appropriations bill and the Commerce, Justice, and State departments appropriations bill. Clinton made no reference to the pre-merger notification provisions, which enjoy bipartisan support and have been approved by the judiciary committees in both chambers. The Senate approved the bill 49-42, and the House voted 206-198. Neither margin is large enough to override a veto. Republican leaders were expected to meet over the weekend with White House officials to work out a compromise. The pre-merger notification provisions would exempt deals of less than $50 million from the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act. The current filing threshold is $15 million. The change is expected to cut in half the nearly 5,000 HSR filings. To recover the lost revenue, the bill raises fees on large deals to $125,000 for transactions valued at $100 million to $500 million, and to $280,000 for transactions worth more than $500 million. Deals valued at $50 million to $100 million would continue to pay the current $45,000 filing fee. The provision also requires the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice to establish an appeals process for second requests, which are government demands for more details on a deal. The appeals process would let companies ask the agencies to reduce the scope of the document request. The agencies must report to Congress on the disposition of second-request appeals. The reforms become effective on the first day of the first month after enactment. Copyright (c)2000 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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