Wireless lobby tangles future of domestic violence bill – Axios

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Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios
Lawmakers trying to advance a bill to help domestic abuse survivors believe it’s been stymied by the wireless industry because of concerns it will cost them customers, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: Victims of domestic abuse don't currently have a guaranteed way to leave family plans with their phone lines on a federal level. Strict contracts and fines may keep them trapped in plans where abusers can access phone records or control services.
Driving the news: A bipartisan group of senators announced last week they'd reached an agreement on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), after many months of negotiation.
Yes, but: The Safe Connections Act, a bipartisan bill introduced in 2021 which would allow survivors of domestic abuse to separate their phone line from a family cellular plan and provide privacy protections for victims, was not included in VAWA's reauthorization, despite efforts from its sponsors to attach it.
The big picture: The push-and-pull between the Hill and the wireless industry is an example of the far-reaching influence high-spending lobbying groups have in Washington on all issues.
Between the lines: CTIA poured $12.4 million into lobbying last year, in addition to the $13.3 million Verizon spent, the $11.5 million AT&T spent and the $9.6 million T-Mobile spent.
What they're saying: “Wireless providers are committed to ensuring survivors of domestic abuse receive the support they need and offer options to transition to new plans," a CTIA spokesperson said in a statement.
The other side: The changes from CTIA are viewed as a way for the wireless industry to retain the customer rather than letting them go, and could create an additional hurdle for a survivor, another Hill source told Axios.
What's next: Co-sponsors of VAWA are still working to include Safe Connections in the final version of the bill, per a source familiar. The bill's sponsors expect the Senate to vote on VAWA in March.


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