Five Bilirakis Bills Move Forward
Washington, D.C. Earlier today, five Bilirakis-authored bills were reported favorably out of the Energy and Commerce Committee. These bills now head to the House Floor for final passage. “With so much dysfunction taking place in Washington lately, it is refreshing to see commonsense bipartisan solutions moving forward,” said Congressman Bilirakis. “These bills will make a positive impact on the lives of millions of Americans and I urge my colleagues to join me in pushing them across the finish line.”
The Integrity, Notification, and Fairness in Online Retail Marketplaces for Consumers (INFORM Consumers) Act by Bilirakis and Schakowsky combats the online sale of stolen, counterfeit, and dangerous consumer products by directing online platforms that allow for third-party sellers of consumer products to verify the identity of high-volume third-party sellers, which will prevent organized retail crime. The bill will also ensure that consumers can verify basic identification and contact information for high-volume third-party sellers of consumer products on online marketplaces. “This pro-consumer legislation enacts uniform, nationwide rules to promote safety, increase transparency, and provide greater accountability for online sales. It will provide a layer of enhanced protections for consumers from stolen and counterfeit goods without adding undue burdens on small mom-and-pop businesses,” said Congressman Bilirakis. “This bill is a win-win for consumers and legitimate businesses in the online marketplace.”
The second Bilirakis bill to pass out of committee today is the Restoring Brand USA Act. Brand USA—which is funded by international visitors and private contributions—has generated $56 billion to our economy since 2013 and has historically supported more than 45,000 jobs each year. However, the partnership has lost significant funding as a result of the drop in international visitors due to pandemic travel restrictions. The Restoring Brand USA Act will help Brand USA promote the U.S. to international visitors by directing the Treasury Department to allow this program to access critical resources, funded by foreign traveler visa fees, for the next few years. “The travel and tourism industry was one of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic. As we seek to restore our way of life and fully recover, we cannot overlook the work that must be done to renew this powerful engine of economic growth for communities across the nation. Brand USA has proven itself as a successful catalyst for spurring tourism to the United States. We need that catalyst now more than ever to help rebuild the industry and spur job growth. Common sense solutions like this will help boost the economy and help get us moving in the right direction. The advancement of this initiative is quite timely, given the new Department of State guidelines for travelers from the European Union and UK. We look forward to welcoming these tourists back to our country, and to the job creation it will bring,” Bilirakis said.
The Data Mapping to Save Moms’ Lives Act will use data mapping to identify areas of the country where poor maternal health rates overlap with a lack of broadband access in order to deploy telehealth services most effectively. The United States is one of the only countries in the developed world with a rising maternal mortality rate. Around 700 women die each year in pregnancy related deaths—though 3 in 5 of those deaths are preventable. The problem is especially prevalent in rural communities and amongst women of color who continue to experience disproportionately high rates of maternal and infant mortality. “We need to use every tool at our disposal to improve health outcomes for moms and babies. Including this information into our broadband mapping will help us achieve this goal and ensure these moms get the prenatal care they deserve,” said Congressman Gus Bilirakis.
The fourth Bilirakis bill that passed today involves the issue of spectrum, the highly sought-after radio frequencies that make wireless communications possible, which has revolutionized the world’s way of communicating. Congressman Gus Bilirakis has been working to bring federal laws up to speed with the technological advances of the 21st century for the past six years. Currently, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hold shared jurisdiction over the management of spectrum policies. However, these agencies have not created a system to coordinate usage of spectrum policies since their 2003 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Finding solutions to create a consistent and efficient use of spectrum that helps to foster innovation is key to promoting America’s economic growth, universal service goals, and technological leadership. In recognition of this fact, Congressman Bilirakis introduced the Spectrum Coordination Act that would require the NTIA and FCC to revisit and update their 18 year-old policies. Since the Congressman originally filed this legislation last year, the agencies have begun to improve coordination, but this bill will formalize the process and ensure its completion. “Consumers benefit when government entities work together to modernize processes and improve efficiency. The agreement governing cooperation between NTIA and the FCC has remained unchanged for 18 years. In the world of technology, that is an eternity and spectrum usage, management, and sharing have grown and evolved,” said Congressman Bilirakis. “I want to solidify what has been learned under the original MOU and build upon it to benefit all federal agencies, licensees, and consumers. We have the opportunity to improve effectiveness of government systems and encourage innovation as we continue to work with stakeholders and experts in the field.”
The Oral Health Literacy and Awareness Act is another legislative victory for Bilirakis today. This bill directs the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to develop an oral health literacy strategy to reach underserved communities. This bipartisan bill aims to curb the rise in oral disease and related illnesses by providing prevention education through a five-year oral health literacy campaign. “Oral health is a vital component of overall wellness that is too often overlooked. As with many aspects of healthcare, prevention is key to long-term health. Lack of good oral hygiene has been proven to exacerbate chronic health conditions and contributes to costly, yet preventable, emergency care,” said Congressman Bilirakis. “I am proud to be a part of this initiative to raise awareness about the proactive steps that can be taken to improve oral healthcare as I believe it will improve patient outcomes.”
To listen to Congressman Bilirakis’s opening remarks during the hearing, click here.