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Despite the deep partisan divide in Congress, Democrats and Republicans may have finally found something they can agree upon. And that is stopping the growing nuisance of robocalls.

The U.S. Senate last week passed the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, a necessary measure that aims to help stop and deter illegal and predatory robocalls.

The bill passed the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate by a vote of 97 to 1, and now moves to the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.

The bill as currently proposed would give regulators more time to find scammers, increase civil forfeiture penalties for those caught, promote call authentication and blocking adoption and bring relevant federal agencies and state attorneys general together to address impediments to criminal prosecution of robocallers who intentionally ignore the law, the Register-Herald in Beckley reported.

Both U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., backed the TRACED Act.

"I hear from so many West Virginians about annoying and misleading robocalls," Capito said. "I'm proud we have delivered a solution in the TRACED Act with broad, bipartisan support. Robocalls are more than a nuisance; they are dangerous and predatory. Increasing penalties and giving the appropriate authorities more tools to go after these bad actors is a no-brainer."

"Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, we as Americans can all agree on one thing -- spam and robocalls are just absolutely awful," Manchin added. "I am glad that my colleagues have come together to pass legislation to give FCC and other federal agencies the resources they need to finally reduce calls like these, which have increased year after year."

Specifically, the TRACED Act would:

• Broaden the authority of the Federal Communications Commission to levy civil penalties up to $10,000 per call who intentionally flout telemarketing restrictions.

• Extend the window for the FCC to catch and take civil enforcement action against intentional violations to three years after a robocall is placed.

• Bring together the Department of Justice, FCC, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Commerce, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, the Consumer Protection Bureau and other agencies and state attorneys general to identify and report to Congress on improving deterrence and criminal prosecutions at the state and federal levels.

• Require providers of voice service to adopt call authentication technology, enabling a telephone carrier to verify that incoming calls are legitimate before they reach consumers' phones.

The House must follow the lead of the Senate and promptly pass the TRACED Act.

Millions of Americans who are fed up with the growing nuisance of robocalls will be watching and waiting for the House to act on this vital measure.

-- Bluefield (W.Va.) Daily Telegraph

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