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U.S. House of Representatives passes anti-robocall bill

WASHINGTON, Dec 4 (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill aimed at cracking down on the plague of billions of deceptive robocalls that annoy Americans each month.

The House, in a bipartisan vote, passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which would push carriers to implement a caller authentication system and to make call blocking free. It will also try to ensure the U.S. Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission have the tools needed to pursue robocallers.

"Too often Americans simply will not pick up their phones, out of fear that a robocall is on the other end of the line," Representative Frank Pallone, a Democrat, said before the vote. "These calls are not just annoying, in a lot of instances they are scams targeted at consumers."

A similar bill passed the Senate in May.

In November, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate said they had reached an agreement to combine the measures being considered by the two chambers. (Reporting by Diane Bartz Editing by Paul Simao)