Buried in the budget deal that Congress passed last week is a provision that legalizes robocalls to cell phones to collect government debt, including federal student loans.
And while the ink is just barely dry on the budget legislation, 11 senators already introduced a bill Wednesday to repeal the carveout for government debt collectors.
“The budget bill makes it easier to harass students, consumers, veterans—anyone with a debt backed by the federal government—on their mobile phones,” Sen. Ed Markey, the sponsor of the new legislation, said in a statement. “That’s why today I am introducing the HANGUP Act—the Helping Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone Calls Act—to repeal this problematic provision in the budget act and put a stop to these unwanted robocalls and texts.”
Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Claire McCaskill, Ron Wyden, Robert Menendez, Richard Blumenthal, Patrick Leahy, Al Franken, Amy Klobuchar, and Tammy Baldwin all signed on as cosponsors.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, which was sponsored by Markey when he was in the House, banned automated calls to cell phones without the consumer’s permission. The Federal Communications Commission has been taking steps in recent months to tighten the law’s regulations in an effort to better protect consumers from the calls.