Chairman Stevens and Co-Chairman Inouye Introduce Call Home Act

April 26, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Co-Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) today introduced S.2653, the Call Home Act of 2006. The legislation would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in coordination with the Department of Defense and the Department of State, to seek to reduce phone rates for Armed Forces personnel deployed overseas.

The legislation would authorize the FCC to take actions necessary to reduce phone bills for troops deployed overseas, including the waiver of government fees, assessments, or other charges. However, the Call Home Act would not allow the FCC to engage in rate regulation.

In seeking to reduce such telephone rates, the legislation directs the FCC to evaluate and analyze the costs of calls to and from official duty stations; evaluate methods of reducing rates including the deployment of new technology such as Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP); encourage phone companies to adopt flexible billing for troops and their dependents; and seek agreements with foreign governments to reduce international surcharges on phone calls.

The Call Home Act of 2006 would update legislation from 1992 which directed the FCC to seek to reduce phone bills to troops in specific countries. This legislation ensures that the FCC’s efforts benefit our troops wherever they may be deployed overseas.

“Calls home are a lifeline for the brave American men and women deployed overseas in the global war on terrorism,” said Chairman Stevens. “The Call Home Act directs the FCC to coordinate with the Department of Defense to find ways to make sure our troops and their families have access to affordable communications services.”

“Today, soldiers are able to communicate with their family and friends on a moment’s notice from around the globe, but it is expensive,” said Co-Chairman Inouye.  “This bill will make a small but important difference in the lives of the men and women serving overseas by addressing the high cost of staying in touch with loved ones.”

The Call Home Act is co-sponsored by Commerce Committee Members Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), Trent Lott (R-Miss.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), George Allen (R-Va.), David Vitter (R-La.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).

The bill also has the support of the following groups: the American Legion, Air Force Association, Air Force Sergeants Association, Air Force Women Officers Associated, American Logistics Association, AMVETS (American Veterans), Army Aviation Association of America, Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, Association of the United States Army, Chief Warrant Officer and Warrant Officer Association of the United States Coast Guard, Commissioned Officers Association of the States Public Health Service, Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, Fleet Reserve Association, Gold Star Wives of America, Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America, Marine Corps League, Marine Corps Reserve Association, Military Chaplains Association of the United States of America, Military Officers Association of America, Military Order of the Purple Heart, National Association for Uniformed Services, National Guard Association of the United States, National Military Family Association, National Order of Battlefield Commissions, Naval Enlisted Reserve Association, Naval Reserve Association, Navy League of the United States, Non Commissioned Officers Association, Reserve Enlisted Association, Reserve Officers Association, The Retired Enlisted Association, Society of Medical Consultants to the Armed Forces, United Armed Forces Association, United States Army Warrant Officers Association, USCG Chief Petty Officers Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Veterans' Widows International Network.