On February 17, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler circulated to his fellow commissioners a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to implement an exemption from TCPA liability for certain autodialed calls to consumers that are made for the purpose of collecting a debt owed to the federal government.  The NPRM was drafted pursuant to a provision in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 which amended the TCPA to permit such calls and instructed the Commission to adopt rules to that effect.  The text of the item has not yet been made public, but Commission staff has suggested that the proposed rules take a consumer-friendly approach by limiting the scope of permissible debt collection calls (i.e., calls related to the collection of delinquent debts or helping consumers avoid default) and placing a cap on the number of monthly debt-related calls that would be allowed.  The debt-collection carve-out has faced criticism from both consumer and business advocates.  Consumer advocates claim that the exemption undermines the TCPA’s objectives to eliminate unwanted calls, while the business lobby asserts that limiting the exemption to only allow calls related to the collection of government debts (and not others) is unfair.  Chairman Wheeler said that he hopes to have the new rules in place by August 2, which is the implementation deadline set by the Budget Act. Meanwhile, Senator Ed Markey’s (D-MA) Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone Calls Act of 2015 (HANGUP Act), which would repeal the exemption altogether, remains pending before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.