Annoyed by robocalls? Congress just struck a deal to fight them.

Annoyed by robocalls? Congress just struck a deal to fight them.


By:  Jonathan D. Salant
NJ.com

WASHINGTON — Finally, Congress is ready to tackle the problem of robocalls.

Key lawmakers of both parties, including New Jersyey Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., announced Friday that they had agreed on legislation to send to both houses of Congress and President Donald Trump.

“New Jerseyans are fed up with the endless amount of scam and spam robocalls they receive, but thankfully help is on the way,” said Pallone, D-6th Dist., who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

There were 5.7 billion illegal robocalls in October, including almost 156 million in New Jersey, an average of more than 15 per person, according to YouMail’s Robocall Index.

This was one of the rare issues that united lawmakers of both parties. The Senate passed a bill, 97-1, in May, and the House approved its version, 429-3, in July.

The final agreement was negotiated by Pallone and five other senators and House members, all senior members of the Energy and Commerce or Senate Commerce committees.

While the actual legislation has yet to be written, it will combine elements of both the House and Senate bills.

Lawmakers said the final version will require telephone carriers to verify that the calls are legitimate, at no charge to their customers, and give the Federal Communication Commission and law enforcement the ability to go after scammers.

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., was interrupted by a robocall during an April press conference in Newark to highlight the issue.

"We need to both give our constituents peace of mind and send a clear and resounding message to these phone scammers that they will have the full weight and force of the American government and law enforcement coming after them if they continue to prey on people,” Menendez said.