Congress Overwhelmingly Approves Bill to Give FCC the Tools It Needs to Confront Robocall Scammers
Washington (December 19, 2019) — U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce Committee and author of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and current chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, issued the following statements after the Senate today approved a modified version of their bipartisan Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act (S. 151) by a simple voice vote. The Senate first passed S. 151 by a vote of 97 to 1 on May 23, 2019, and the House of Representatives passed a modified version of the bill by a vote of 417 to 3 on December 4, 2019. It now heads to the president, who is expected to sign it into law.
Amidst ever-increasing numbers of robocall scams, the TRACED Act, which the Washington Post editorial board recently said “is what good, old-fashioned legislating looks like,” gives regulators more time to find scammers and levy fines for those who are caught, promotes call authentication and blocking adoption, and brings relevant federal agencies and state attorneys general together to address impediments to criminal prosecution of robocallers who intentionally flout laws.
“The U.S. Senate today sent Americans a holiday gift on everyone’s list: stopping the plague of robocalls,” said Markey. “The annoying and harassing robocalls we receive every day are neither a Democrat nor Republican menace; they are a universal menace. The TRACED Act cracks down on scammers by requiring phone carriers to authenticate whether calls are legitimate, and then blocking unverified robocalls at no charge to consumers. I thank Senator Thune for his unwavering partnership on this important consumer protection issue. I hope the President quickly signs this bill into law so that families can enjoy a new year of family calls instead of robocalls.”
“I have yet to meet someone who says they enjoy receiving those unwanted and illegal robocalls that plague our phones, whether we’re at home, at work, or in the car, which is why the TRACED Act takes several important steps in the fight to curb this scourge,” said Thune. “This bill represents a unique legislative effort that is not only bipartisan at its core, but it’s nearly unanimously supported in Congress. Most importantly, this is a significant win for consumers in every corner of the country, and it finally and officially puts illegal robocallers on notice. While no process is perfect, I’m glad we were able to work together with Republicans and Democrats, senators and members of the House to reach this important compromise, which, once signed into law, will begin to make an important down payment on the fight against illegal robocalls.”
In November 2019, House and Senate negotiators, including Markey and Thune and U.S. Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.), Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), and Bob Latta (R-Ohio), announced an agreement on this bipartisan, bicameral compromise.
Summary of the TRACED Act:
Markey and Thune introduced the TRACED Act on January 17, 2019, and its cosponsor list quickly grew to more than three-quarters of the Senate. The bill is supported by attorneys general in all 50 states, by all current commissioners at the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission, and by industry and consumer groups, including AARP. It was also the subject of a hearing entitled, “Illegal Robocalls: Calling All to Stop the Scourge.”