Morgan Griffith: Robocalls, taxes and prescription drugs

morgan griffithHave you received an unsolicited call recently from a number that looked familiar? If so, you are far from alone. Robocalls increasingly plague our cell phones. They leave us unsure about who is calling and what is a legitimate call. Sometimes they trick those who pick up into sending money or divulging sensitive information. At the very least, they are annoying.

Many of you have told me about your experiences with this problem, and I have received these calls myself. In the House of Representatives, we recognize that it needs our attention and legislative action.

The Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, part of the Energy and Commerce Committee on which I serve, held a hearing in April about this scourge.

I participated in another of the subcommittee’s hearings which featured all five commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), who were asked about the problem.

Robocall perpetrators have taken advantage of technologies that allow them to spoof (which produces numbers with your area code) and automatically dial numbers with greater ease. Advances in technology exploited by bad actors have outpaced the law.

Federal agencies have stepped up enforcement with the tools they have. For example, the FCC has called on the phone industry to adopt a standard called SHAKEN/STIR, which would require carriers to authenticate calls as they progress through various networks.

Legislative action will still be needed, and if the phone carriers won’t help, we may have to make SHAKEN/STIR a law instead of voluntary action. I look forward to participating in the process as bills are introduced, marked up, and advanced. The telecommunications industry has an important role to play in stopping this abuse of its services as well.

You should be able to trust that your phone calls are coming from the sources they say they are, and to live without the incessant interruption of robocalls.

More Benefits from Tax Reform

According to Governor Ralph Northam’s (D-VA) office, revenue collection for Virginia’s Revenue Fund is up 27.4% compared to last April. Furthermore, the state collected 50.4% more in corporate income taxes this April compared to last April.

This surge in revenue can be attributed in part to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that we passed in Congress and President Trump signed. Tax reform is creating more wealth to fund the state’s services, on top of the jobs and business investment it has launched.

Prescription Drug Prices

Addressing the high costs of prescription drugs has been a priority of mine in the House of Representatives, and one I have discussed here often. Part of the reason I have written so much about it lately is that meaningful bipartisan work is underway on the issue. However, Democrats have also taken a step back from cooperating. This is an unfortunate development.

The Subcommittee on Health is holding a series of hearings on prescription drug prices, most recently on the drug supply chain. This hearing included representatives from all parts of the chain, including manufacturers, insurers, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), and pharmacies. I called for greater transparency from everyone at the table, especially from PBMs, whose workings I compare to a “mysterious black box.”

Various hearings and discussions this year and previously, when Republicans controlled the House of Representatives and thus the Energy and Commerce Committee, have yielded legislation that draws bipartisan support. We recently advanced several bills out of the committee with strong support across party lines.

These bills were meant to help solve a problem. Nancy Pelosi had other ideas.

Instead of taking up these bills on the House floor, where they would likely pass overwhelmingly and have a strong chance of Senate action, Speaker Pelosi attached them to other controversial measures that Republicans could not support.

She could have presided over a major bipartisan win on an issue that affects millions of Americans in red and blue states. She opted to play politics, and now the prescription drug bills are dead in the water.

I will still work with anyone, Democrat or Republican, to help lower prescription drug prices. But it will be more difficult if Democrat leadership continues to seek a partisan advantage.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office.  You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.



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