House Robocall Legislation Taking Shape

With Congress back on Capitol Hill after its latest recess, reports are emanating that a compromise, composite House robocall bill is in the works. Reportedly, House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR) have been negotiating a new bipartisan bill that would include components from the Chairman’s Stopping Bad Robocalls Act (H.R. 946) and the half-dozen other proposals examined by the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology in April. Reports are that Chairman Pallone hopes to be able to introduce the compromise as early as within the next week.

Congressman Walden was quoted as saying that the negotiations had narrowed to “one or two sticking points,” including, “making sure we get the right wording there to ensure that we’re attacking [only] the illegal robocalls.” Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH), the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee, is supporting inclusion of language from his own bill, the STOP Robocalls Act (H.R. 2386). Among other things, it would sanction carrier provision of robocall blocking technology to consumers on an opt-out basis – akin to what the FCC approved in its Declaratory Ruling last week. Congressman Walden is arguing for a “safe harbor” if carriers block a robocall that turns out not to be a robocall.

Meanwhile, the TRACED Act, S.151, passed 97-1 by the Senate on May 23, traveled across the Capitol and was formally referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce the next day. Although there is a companion House version that has gained forty-three supporters, H.R. 2015, it does not appear to have been factored into the House Committee on Energy and Commerce amalgamation discussions. Still, Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) who, along with Senator John Thune (R-SD), co-sponsored the Senate bill, is reportedly optimistic that the TRACED Act will be in the mix when any necessary Senate-House conference would have to meet to reconcile differences in the two bills.

And that is where things stand at this juncture. TCPAWorld will of course report on the House proposal as soon as it is hatched. Stay tuned.

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