December 7, 2019
The chaos of the week can make it seem as though Washington is in a state of dysfunctional gridlock. Yet, just this week, we passed milestone legislation that will improve lives not just in our Capital Region, but throughout the country.
On Wednesday, in a sweeping 417-3 vote, the House of Representatives advanced a bill cracking down on dangerous and unwanted robocalls. The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED Act) is the product of bipartisan, bicameral efforts to restore transparency and trust in the communications system.
Robocalls are becoming increasingly common across the country, and they are only predicted to get worse.
This absurd interference requires immediate action. Not only are scam calls an incredible nuisance; they also present a real danger to the American people. Scammers call posing as the IRS, local governments, police departments and loved ones looking for help. Hospitals, where fast and efficient communication can mean the difference between life and death, are particularly inundated with disruptive calls.
Americans are not receiving the transparency and control over their phones, and their lives, that they need. The TRACED Act works to change that by:
- Giving the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the necessary tools to prohibit and fine unlawful robocalls;
- Helping the FCC and responsible carriers trace back and cut off phone companies responsible for sending vast numbers of unlawful robocalls;
- Requiring the FCC to stop one-ring scams;
- Ensuring that carriers offer call-authentication technology to consumers and small businesses in rural and urban America at no additional charge;
- Offering opt-in or opt-out robocall blocking to consumers for an additional charge; and
- Protecting patients, doctors and hospitals from unlawful robocalls.
This bill has overwhelming support in Congress, and consumer groups and industries are largely in favor, including Consumer Reports, AARP, the National Consumer Law Center, US Telecom, and many more.
Although this bill seems to have emerged overnight, it is the product of sustained and diligent work to ensure that this commonsense legislation is signed into law. One of the main reasons I chose to serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee is to have the opportunity to lead on these issues that matter. Our Committee amended H.R.3375 – the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act; and, in July, several hundred colleagues joined me in the House to pass the bill.
Americans depend on their phones to communicate with those around them. This legislation will help rebuild trust with phone industries and give the Federal Communications Commission the tools to combat phone scammers at no cost to the American consumer.
Thanks to all my colleagues for their work to pass this necessary legislation on behalf of the American people. I remain optimistic that the Senate will quickly vote to pass the bill and send it to the President’s desk. It would be a welcome gift for every American this holiday season.
As always, thank you for reading.