A popular bill intended to crack down on illegal, unwanted robocalls has passed House and Senate votes with overwhelming majorities and will soon make its way to President Trump’s desk for final approval.
The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act was again approved by the Senate on Thursday after passing a House of Representatives vote by a 417-3 margin earlier this month. The bipartisan bill, first formally introduced in the Senate by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) in January, made its way back to the Senate as amended for another vote after initially passing by a 97-1 vote earlier this year.
Thune and Markey released a joint statement following Thursday’s win saying they expect President Trump to sign the bill into law.
“The U.S. Senate today sent Americans a holiday gift on everyone’s list: stopping the plague of robocalls,” stated Markey. “The annoying and harassing robocalls we receive every day are neither a Democrat nor Republican menace; they are a universal menace.
“I hope the President quickly signs this bill into law so that families can enjoy a new year of family calls instead of robocalls.”
The TRACED Act broadens the authority of the Federal Communications Commission to discipline those who violate telemarketing restrictions; gives the government more time to take action against violators; and requires providers of voice services to adopt call authentication technologies, enabling a telephone carrier to verify incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers’ phones.
The act would also bring together federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, to identify and report to Congress on improving deterrence and criminal prosecution at the federal and state level of robocall scams.
“This bill represents a unique legislative effort that is not only bipartisan at its core, but it’s nearly unanimously supported in Congress,” Thune stated. “Most importantly, this is a significant win for consumers in every corner of the country, and it finally and officially puts illegal robocallers on notice. While no process is perfect, I’m glad we were able to work together with Republicans and Democrats, senators and members of the House to reach this important compromise, which, once signed into law, will begin to make an important down payment on the fight against illegal robocalls.”
Passing in the House was an amendment introduced by Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Michael Burgess (R-Texas) designed to help hospitals and patients combat robocalls stemming from their “Protecting Patients and Doctors from Unlawful Robocalls Act of 2019” announced earlier this year.
Editor’s note: This story, originally posted after the House vote on Dec. 4, has been updated to reflect the bill’s approval by the Senate.