They were the only two Democrats to vote against the legislation.
By DAVID ENRICH
STATES NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON -- The Mahoning Valley's two congressmen voted Wednesday against a bill that would bar telemarketers from phoning households that have asked not to be bothered.
Reps. Tim Ryan of Niles and Ted Strickland of Lucasville were the only two Democrats in Congress to vote against the bill, which passed overwhelmingly. Five Republicans also voted no, and nine lawmakers did not vote.
The Do-Not-Call Implementation Act authorizes the Federal Trade Commission to collect fees from telemarketers to pay for maintaining the national list for the next five years. Congress approved a similar bill last year setting up the logistics of the do-not-call registry.
Rep. W.J. Tauzin, the Louisiana Republican who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee and who wrote the legislation, said it would offer "welcome relief from telemarketers who have interrupted us during dinnertime far too many times."
Reason for votes
But Ryan and Strickland both represent districts that are home to call centers where hundreds of telemarketers dial people's homes to peddle phone services and other products.
The telemarketing industry has opposed the do-not-call legislation and warned that it could cost thousands of jobs nationwide.
Strickland's 6th Congressional District, which spans most of eastern Ohio, is home to at least three call centers, which he said employ about 1,000 people.
In deciding how to vote, Strickland said he "balanced employment for people who desperately want and need to work vs. the inconvenience of those who would receive unsolicited calls. I came down on the side of caution, I guess, and jobs."
Ryan was unavailable to comment, but his chief of staff, Mary Anne Walsh, said he voted against the bill for similar reasons. There are call centers in Youngstown, Niles and Warren, and Walsh said there also was a potential for the law to hurt MCI Communications Corp., which she said employs several hundred people in its Niles branch.
"Several hundred workers in his district would be adversely affected," Walsh said.
Strickland and Ryan were both frustrated with the procedures used to bring the bill to the House floor. Lawmakers were not allowed to amend the legislation, and Strickland's request to debate the bill's sponsor on the House floor was rejected.
Before the national do-not-call registry can become a reality, the Senate must approve a similar funding mechanism.