On Tuesday, June 25, House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee members considered the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act (H.R. 3375). The bill, which was approved unanimously, would crack down on “one-ring” scams that trick people into calling back a number that then charges them large fees. It would also ensure that the FCC refers illegal robocalls to the Justice Department for potential prosecution and to create a spam calls task force. While consumer groups praised the bill, banks, credit unions, and debt collectors have vocalized their opposition saying the bill is overbroad and risks blocking legitimate calls.
While the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act is similar to the Senate’s TRACED Act (S. 151), it also contains language making it broader. When asked about the House’s version, GOP whip Sen. John Thune (R-SD) said in an interview with Politico’s John Hendel that, “if the House comes out with something that attracts more detractors and forces us to go into conference, it prolongs what should be, I think, a fairly simple and straightforward process. I would like to see them (the House) pick up our bill and pass it.” Last month, the Senate’s TRACED Act passed the chamber by a vote of 97-1. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), the full Energy and Commerce Committee’s top Republican also told Politico, “we know this still has a journey, obviously, but I think we’ve got a good work product here, the best we could get. And we’re tackling a really expensive and sometimes dangerous problem involving robocalls, so I think we’ll continue to lean forward on it and then see where we end up after we talk to the Senate.”
On Wednesday, July 17, the full House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 49-0 to send the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act to the House floor. The bill, which currently has 152 co-sponsors, is expected to easily pass House consideration and could be considered as soon as Wednesday, July 24. While considering the underlying bill, the committee also approved bipartisan amendments to establish an FCC hospital robocall protection group and increase penalties for knowingly unlawful robocallers.