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WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO) joined a trio of fellow Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate this week in calling for the swift passage of a bill aimed at banning price gouging practices that have led sellers to jack up the prices on items such as masks and hand sanitizer during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse

Price Gouging Prevention Act — cosponsored in the House by U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) would classify any price hike of more than 10% during a disaster as gouging and give the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general stronger authority to enforce efforts to combat the practice.

Bill sponsors are lobbying for its inclusion in the next COVID-19 economic relief package.

“As a freshman member [of congress] and someone who has spent a bulk of my career in consumer protection leading the state’s consumer protection agency in Colorado before being elected to congress, being able to partner with Sen. Warren and Sen. Harris — who are really national leaders on consumer protection — is particularly meaningful for me,” Neguse said during a Tuesday  conference call with reporters.

“This crisis has exposed a gap in our consumer protection laws,“ he said, and without beefed up legislation, “I fear that the type of scamming we’re seeing across the country will continue.”

States including California and Florida have existing price gouging legislation on the books.

“It is critically important that we put American families in the forefront and that’s what this bill does,” Warren said. “… We can’t let American families … be squeezed even further by companies out to make a quick buck.”

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