New House Energy & Commerce Committee Leaders Good News for TCPA Reform

By Pamela J. Garvie, Peter V. Nelson, Elana Reman, Andrew C. Glass, Joseph C. Wylie II, and Gregory N. Blase

Last month, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) was selected by U.S. House of Representatives Republicans as the new Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He succeeds Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who had to step down due to term limits. Today, Rep. Walden announced Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee leaders for the 115th Congress. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) was named the Chair of the Subcommittee on Communications & Technology and Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) will serve as Vice Chairman.

Both Committee Chairman Walden and Subcommittee Chair Blackburn are strong proponents of TCPA reform.  At a September 22, 2016 TCPA hearing, Chairman Walden, who until being named full Committee Chairman served as the Communications Subcommittee Chairman, stated, “It’s been 25 years since Congress passed the TCPA and the world has changed dramatically in that time period. . . . It’s increasingly clear current law is outdated and in many cases counterproductive. It’s time to modernize the current law to reflect the incredible technological changes in our culture.”  He also said Congress needs to draw a distinction between “harassing, malicious” calls and texts from “bad actors” and “legitimate, informational calls that consumers want.”  During the same hearing, now-Subcommittee Chair Blackburn expressed shock at the number of TCPA lawsuits––the second most frequently filed cause of action in federal courts—the amount of payout for the plaintiffs, and conveyed that, in her opinion, those numbers indicated something is seriously wrong with the law. She also pressed the witnesses for recommendations for changes to the statute.

The selection of these new Energy and Commerce Committee leaders combined with the Republicans retaining control of the Senate and President-elect Donald Trump’s push for FCC and other regulatory reforms means that TCPA reform just took another big step forward. Its future looks more promising.

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