While the language in Congressional legislative reports does not have statutory force, Federal agencies pay attention. This is particularly the case when the message is sent by the Committee overseeing their budget and the funds appropriated each year.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations did just that last week in Senate Report No. 116-111 on the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations bill including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The Report, submitted by Senator John Kennedy (R-LA), had something to say about robocalls and the need to dedicate more focus to “solving this increasingly prevalent issue.”
The specific commentary and directives, in the section addressing funds recommended for the FCC, were as follows:
Robocalls.—The Committee recognizes the pervasiveness of abusive and illegal robocalls that are disrupting and harming Americans every day, especially older Americans, and that seek to swindle them out of their hard-earned life savings. While the Committee appreciates the current efforts the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission [FTC] to enforce existing laws and work alongside industry to address this problem, it is clear that more focus needs to be dedicated to solving this increasingly prevalent issue. The Committee directs the FCC to prioritize resources to combat illegal robocalling and caller ID spoofing within the Enforcement Bureau’s Telecommunications Consumers Division and to expeditiously follow through on issues raised in the Commission’s June 7 rulemaking. The Committee further directs the FCC and the FTC to continue to collaborate with each other and with industry to encourage full implementation of Secure Telephony Identity Revisited/ Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs, or ‘‘STIR/SHAKEN,’’ technology, as well as education and outreach efforts to assist consumers in stopping and avoiding scam calls and unwanted calls.
So Senator Kennedy and the FCC’s appropriators are watching and waiting.
In the meantime, TCPAWorld has had no further reports on the status of efforts to resolve the Senate-passed TRACE Act, S. 151, and the House-passed Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, H.R. 3375, but we are following closely.