Pallone & Schakowsky Celebrate Consumer Protection Wins in Omnibus
Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) released the following joint statement today after the House of Representatives passed the omnibus, which included key provisions to crack down on consumer scams targeting older adults and members of American Indian and Alaska Native communities, prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, and promote clean competition in sports, among other things.
“With today’s omnibus passage, Congress is standing up for consumers, especially those who are targeted by or particularly vulnerable to scammers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw bad actors increase their targeting of older Americans and Indian Tribes. Thankfully, today’s government funding package will help crack down on these predatory schemes by further empowering the Federal Trade Commission to hold scammers accountable.
“We are also proud that the omnibus will establish a grant program to install carbon monoxide detectors in elderly and low-income individuals’ homes as well as public buildings to protect Americans against this invisible killer. Additionally, the omnibus includes funding for anti-doping efforts in sports to protect athletes and ensure integrity and safety in sports. Finally, the bill extends funding and authorization for Brand USA to ensure the United States remains a top destination for international travelers.
“We are pleased to see these commonsense, bipartisan measures included in the final omnibus and urge swift passage in the Senate to save lives and protect our nation’s most at-risk consumers.”
Specifically, the omnibus:
- Directs the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to establish a new office dedicated to preventing fraud targeting seniors and monitoring the market for such fraud. While one in 20 seniors in the United States is a target of fraud schemes, only one in 44 seniors report that they are victims of a fraud scheme. The office would address these low reporting rates as well as help seniors recover their assets. It would also direct the FTC to form an advisory group to collect and implement best practices to stop scammers before they can cause harm, while educating the public on fraud that targets seniors.
- Increases awareness and reporting of fraud and scams that target Indian Tribes. While everyone is at risk for fraud, FTC data suggests that American Indian and Alaska Native communities are more likely to be victims of scams and less likely to report scams than other racial and ethnic groups. The omnibus directs the FTC to consult with Indian Tribes about scams targeting their members and to issue a publicly available report to Congress.
- Creates a new program through the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to install carbon monoxide alarms in elderly and low-income individuals’ homes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), carbon monoxide poisoning results in over 20,000 emergency rooms visits every year. The program would also promote carbon monoxide awareness, especially in tribal areas, with an emphasis on residences with fuel-burning appliances.
- Reauthorizes the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) through 2031 to empower the agency to encourage a positive sporting environment for young athletes by providing educational materials on sportsmanship, character building, and healthy performance, and would improve anti-doping efforts in the United States by encouraging federal agencies to coordinate and share information with USADA to prevent the use of performance-enhancing drugs and methods.
- Makes additional funding available for the Corporation for Travel Promotion, also known as Brand USA.