Congress has reached an agreement in principle to give communications companies, regulators and law enforcement more tools to stop illegal robocalls, according to U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and sponsor of the House version of the bill, H.R. 3375.
Different versions of the bill have passed the House and Senate. In a statement released Friday, Pallone, U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA), and Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) announced that they have come to an agreement in principle on the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act, to combat what they called the “robocall epidemic.”
“Today, we are proud to announce that we have come to an agreement in principle on legislation, the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act, to combat the robocall epidemic that we believe can be signed into law by the President,” the six House and Senate leaders said.
“It’s time to put Americans back in charge of their phones. Our agreement will require telephone carriers to verify calls and allow robocalls to be blocked in a consistent and transparent way, all at no extra charge to consumers,” they said.
Reporter Emily Birmbaum of The Hill, wrote that the new bill has not been made public yet as lawmakers are still finalizing the bill text.
Nevertheless, she said the new legislation would require telephone carriers to verify calls and offer tools for their customers to block robocalls that are spam, as well as give the Federal Communications Commission more time to investigate and punish violators.
Some estimates have put the number of robocalls in the U.S. in 2018 at 26.3 billion, a 46% increase from the year before.
In May, the Senate passed the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act by a vote of 97-1. In July, the House of Representatives passed the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act by a vote of 429-3. The bills will be merged and reconciled as part of the agreement in principle.