A Senate panel on Wednesday advanced legislation that would levy a hefty fine on illegal robocalls, the latest congressional effort to crack down on the billions of unwanted calls that irritate U.S. consumers every year.
Lawmakers on the Senate Commerce Committee approved the bill in 26-0 vote. The measure's co-sponsors include Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a 2020 contender, and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), who chairs the Senate Commerce consumer protection subcommittee.
The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, introduced by Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), would give the federal government the authority to slap offenders with fines of up to $10,000 per call.
It also would give the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) more time to bring charges against companies behind illegal robocalls, lengthening the statute of limitations from one to three years. The telecom industry would be required under the legislation to take stronger action against “spoofing,” a practice where robocallers make it look like they are calling from a number in the recipient's area code.