Liveblogging The Do Not Call Improvement Act and CPSC Reform Act Committee Markups

Get ready for dual-chamber coverage of the House and Senate markups of the Do Not Call Improvement Act and the CPSC Reform Act, starting at 2 pm. The FTC-supported Do Not Call Improvement Act would make Do Not Call registrations permanent. The House is set to consider its version, H.R. 3541, in the House Energy and Commerce Committee at 2 pm, while the Senate Commerce Committee will markup its own version, S. 2096, at 2:30 pm. The Senate will also markup S. 2045, the CPSC Reauthorization Act, which would boost the CPSC budget to almost $150 million, add 80 new staffers, and increase the CPSC’s maximum fine from $1.8 million to $100 million.

Committee markups are where our Congressional representatives do actual work. Amendments will be proposed, debated, and voted on. Unlike hearings, there are no witnesses. The House and Senate versions of the Do Not Call Improvement Act are currently identical, but may emerge in different, competing forms depending on what happens in markup.

Join us starting at 2 p.m. as we fly between the chambers with the speed and alacrity of a pigeon.
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

1:45: House Video Link
1:50: Senate Audio Link – Ted Stevens didn’t want to put on makeup today, so the Senate hearing will be audio only.

2:21: House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) has called his hearing to order, and is giving his opening statement.
2:23: The House will also be marking up H.R. 2601, which will permanently reauthorize and fund the Do Not Call List. Dingell wants no amendments on the bill.
2:24: He does have concerns with Congressman Mike Doyle’s (D-PA) H.R. 3541 – not good, we don’t really care what the Direct Marketing Association thinks of the bill.
2:25: Maybe the Committee also wants to consider a bill to ban power mowers that interrupt Committee hearings? Really, neighbor, who has a power mower in the city?
2:28: Ranking Member Barton (R-TX) also supports the Do Not Call List reauthorization.
2:29: Barton: “I’m willing to bet there’s a telemarketer out there, bless his heart, who wants to call me. I don’t want him to call me.”
2:30: The House is moving onto the first bill on their docket, H.R. 1534, the Mercury Export Ban Act of 2007.
2:35: Wait a minute, the House just skipped over to their fourth agenda item, H.R. 2601, the Do-Not-Call Registry Fee Extension Act of 2007. Let’s stay with that while we wait for the Senate Commerce Committee to kick off their hearing.
2:36: Under the reauthorization bill, the FTC would be required to provide biannual reports to Congress on the status of the list.
2:36: Rep Stearns (R-FL) wants more data on how the FTC scrubs the list.
2:37: Stearns is going to offer an amendment to tighten the definition of “prior business relationship.” Great idea, and a large potential loophole for annoying consumers.
2:37: Stearns also supports H.R. 3541. Good.
2:42: Congressman Upton (R-MI) wants to balance permanent registrations with the need to keep the registry accurate. In Congressional parlance, “accurate” is usually a synonym for “hindered.”

2:47: The Senate Commerce Committee feed just went active. Let’s go see what they are up to.
2:47: Stevens is talking… did they already pass the Do Not Call List? Which he wants renamed the Never Call List. (we’d support that!)
2:48: Stevens wants the agenda items approved en masse.
2:49: Without objection, so ordered.
2:50: The WSJ apparently called the CPSC Reform Bill ‘The most significant consumer safety legislation in a generation.’
2:50: Pryor has no amendments for the bill.
2:52: Dorgan is cheering the Do Not Call List as one of the government’s most successful efforts.
2:53: Everybody likes the Never Call List.
2:53: Klobuchar is here to praise the CPSC bill.
2:54: She’s especially proud that there’s finally a federal lead standard.
2:54: And that toys will now be required to carry batch numbers to make recalls easier and more efficient.
2:54: Target and Toys R Us, in particular helped craft the bill.
2:55: This is one big Pat-Everyone-On-The-Back fest.
2:55: Boxer (D-CA) is lauding a requirement for internet retailers to identify if a toy presents a choking hazard. Not a bad idea; those pictures on Amazon are never detailed enough.
2:57: McCaskill wants to talk about amendment 3, an improved whistleblower protection standard.
2:57: If whistleblowers don’t get a timely decision from the CPSC on their case, they could appeal to federal court.
2:58: Stevens wants to know if this would kick every instance of the CPSC not acting over the federal courts.
2:59: McCaskill says that this is exactly the same protection issued to any other whistleblower.
3:00: Senator DeMint (R-SC) is on the way to offer an amendment.
3:03: DeMint has arrived, fresh from dealing with Amtrak amendments.
3:03: His amendment deals with prescription drug reimportation.
3:04: Dorgan wants to know what bill DeMint think he’s amending.
3:05: Unknown Senator: “There’s no bill before us.”
3:06: Nope, already passed the CPSC Reform Act, so DeMint can’t do anything.
3:06: But now, Dorgan is condemning DeMint for his stunning lack of courtesy, since DeMint gave no notice that he would offer his amendment.
3:06: DeMint thought Dorgan knew, which is why he thought Dorgan would offer a second-degree amendment. But now, nope, no amendment.
3:07: Dorgan: “Your staff did not contact my staff.”
3:07: DeMint is again talking about drug reimportation. “The has apparently passed, and I apologize for any offense.”
3:07: Done with the CPSC Reform Act.
3:07: “That’s it.”
3:07: We heard a gavel, and now rustling. We assume the Committee hearing is over. Sure would’ve been nice if their feed went active at 2:30. Senate Commerce and Science fails us again with their technology.
3:08: Overheard from the audience: “Well that was a bummer!”

3:13: Back over to the House side.
3:13: What? still on the Mercury Export Ban Act?
3:14: Take a page from the Senate, fellas, and speed up.
3:14: Michael Burgess (R-TX) is saying something, but as Meghann points out: He might be right, but I don’t care because he’s so annoying.
3:14: There’s a roll call vote on reporting the bill to the full House.
3:15: Anyone with insomnia should invest in a Congressional clerk.
3:18: Only the Clerk’s mic is active, so it sounds like Dingell is screaming from down the hall to vote ‘aye’.
3:19: The clerk is tallying the vote… such pressure.
3:20: 45 ayes, and 2 nays.
3:20: The bill is agreed to and reported to the full House.
3:21: Onto H.R. 3461, Safeguarding America’s Families by Enhancing and Reorganizing New and Efficient Technologies Act of 2007
3:21: Enhancing and organizing new and efficient technologies? Who the hell came up that name?
3:22: Mary Bono (R-CA), apparently.
3:22: This one is all about keeping the kiddies safe. Code from keeping porn away from vulnerable children.
3:21: Enhancing and organizing new and efficient technologies? Who the hell came up that name?
3:22: Mary Bono (R-CA), apparently.
3:22: This one is all about keeping the kiddies safe. Code from keeping porn away from vulnerable children.
3:23: That was fast. Onto H.R. 2601, the Do Not Call Reauthorization Act.
3:24: There will be an amendment. Why, why, does our video feed keep freezing.
3:25: Stearns is going to offer, and then withdraw an amendment. Sounds useful!
3:25: He wants Congress’ intent clarified.
3:25: A loophole in the telemarketing sales rule allows firm to bundle numbers on the Do Not Call List, which are then passed onto firms.
3:26: Businesses send cards to senior citizens telling them to return the cards for more information.
3:26: The card, when returned, establishes a business relationship, allowing businesses to annoy our grandparents.
3:27: Question: “Why are you withdrawing the amendment?”
3:27: Stearns is deferring to the Senate. The Senate just passed the same bill, and if he amends the House bill, a conference committee will be required to hammer out the details.
3:27: Stearns wants the bill to sail through, sans conference, on the suspension calendar.
3:28: Instead, he wants Chairman Dingell and Ranking Member Barton to send a letter to the FTC asking them to close the loophole.
3:29: Stearns withdraws the amendment, Dingell will send the letter.
3:30: Rep Terry (R-NE) is offering a clarifying amendment.
3:31: It’s illegal for private sector debt collectors to call people on their wireless number. People don’t say when filling out forms whether their number is a cell or a landline, leading to confusion about what numbers can be called. Technical issue.
3:33: The Chair will work with Terry to fix it, and the amendment is withdrawn.

3:34: Onto our bill, H.R. 3541, the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act of 2007
3:35: Congressman Doyle (D-PA) is offering a substitute amendment.
3:35: “Our bill takes one more hassle off [the consumer's] plate.”
3:36: AARP shipped in a batch of red-sweater clad seniors to support Doyle’s bill.
3:36: There are apparently people who worry the Do Not Call List negatively impacts our economy.
3:37: But the List allows marketers to target people who are open to their services.
3:38: Doyle’s amendment will allow people to also remove their name from the List in case they change their minds. Very reasonable.

3:34: Onto our bill, H.R. 3541, the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act of 2007
3:35: Congressman Doyle (D-PA) is offering a substitute amendment.
3:35: “Our bill takes one more hassle off [the consumer's] plate.”
3:36: AARP shipped in a batch of red-sweater clad seniors to support Doyle’s bill.
3:36: There are apparently people who worry the Do Not Call List negatively impacts our economy.
3:37: But the List allows marketers to target people who are open to their services.
3:38: Doyle’s amendment will allow people to also remove their name from the List in case they change their minds. Very reasonable.
3:39: Chip Pickering (R-MS) also supports Doyle’s bill.
3:40: Bart Stupack (D-MI) wants to distribute an article to Committee Members, something that apparently requires unanimous consent. So ordered.
3:40: Stupack thinks dinner interruptions are nothing compared to interruptions in the middle of the night for political campaigns.
3:41: Removing the exemption for politicians isn’t german to the bill, and won’t be offered as an amendment; but Stupack wants to take up the issue soon. Good idea. We hate political robocalls.
3:42: On a voice vote, the bill is reported to the House.
3:42: Dingell is ominously pointing out that there are certain technical imperfections with the bill. Dingell won’t move the bill to the floor until they address these vague “small imperfections.”
3:43: Imperfections = complications. Do Not Call reauthorization is gunning for the suspension calendar. If 3541 needs to be changed the changes need to be echoed on the Senate side to avoid a conference.
3:43: We’re eager to hear what the imperfections are, and will keep an eye on the bill as it moves forward.
3:44: To recap our coverage, all of our bills have been favorably reported to their respective chambers. Next stop, floor debate.

Comments

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  1. Laura Ingalls Wildest says:

    Ummm. How about a “do not send this junk mail to my address?”

    It would be easy as pie to implement — the USPS and the marketing companies already have nationwide lists for various purposes.

    But, aha! The USPS would have less mail to carry.

  2. InThrees says:

    I think the USPS would just hike the rates again if they need to.

    Everytime they DO hike rates and people complain, I marvel at it, however. We have some of the least expensive postal service in the world…

    And people still get up in arms because it costs them 40 cents to pay someone to carry their letter 2500 miles.

    So yeah, I can’t imagine that the USPS cares all that much about ‘losing’ the revenue from bulk rate mail. It’s heavily discounted anyway.