KARI'S LAW ACT OF 2017; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 25
(House of Representatives - February 08, 2018)

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[Pages H992-H994]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                         KARI'S LAW ACT OF 2017

  Mr. LANCE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and concur in the 
Senate amendment to the bill (H.R. 582) to amend the Communications Act 
of 1934 to require multi-line telephone systems to have a configuration 
that permits users to directly initiate a call to 9-1-1 without dialing 
any additional digit, code, prefix, or post-fix, and for other 
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the Senate amendment is as follows:
  Senate amendment:

       Beginning on page 4, strike line 10 and all that follows 
     through page 5, line 2, and insert the following:
       (b) Effective Date.--The amendment made by subsection (a) 
     shall apply with respect to a multi-line telephone system 
     that is manufactured, imported, offered for first sale or 
     lease, first sold or leased, or installed after the date that 
     is 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Young of Iowa). Pursuant to the rule, 
the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Lance) and the gentleman from 
Pennsylvania (Mr. Michael F. Doyle) each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New Jersey.

                             General Leave

  Mr. LANCE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members have 
5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and to insert 
extraneous material in the Record on the bill.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from New Jersey?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. LANCE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  H.R. 582, or Kari's Law, was sponsored by my good friend, Congressman 
Gohmert. This important bill passed earlier this Congress on January 
23, 2017. I am pleased that at this time it will be sent to the 
President to be signed into law.
  The residents of Texas know of a very painful story. Kari Hunt was 
murdered in a hotel room by her estranged husband in 2013. Kari's 9-
year-old daughter did the exact right thing she knew to do, which was 
to call 911. Unfortunately, she did not know to dial another digit to 
get an outside line; and, parenthetically, I would not have known that.
  This legislation will ensure that when you stay at a hotel, you can 
dial 911 and the call will go through without dialing another number. 
Kari's dad, Hank, and Mr. Gohmert had been relentless advocates to make 
sure that this legislation becomes law. I commend their efforts and 
that of Senator Klobuchar and her staff, along with Senator Deb 
  God bless Kari's family for not giving up and fighting for this law. 
It is impossible to express how important it is, especially as we 
approach the 50th anniversary of 911 service next week.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. MICHAEL F. DOYLE of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 
such time as I may consume.

[[Page H993]]

  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the Senate amendment to H.R. 582, a 
bill that passed the House last Congress by voice vote.
  I agree that we must do all we can to make sure that consumers using 
multiline telephone systems can directly dial 911 without having to 
dial additional digits first. These are the large enterprise phone 
systems that we use in big office buildings and hotels. Many of these 
phones require consumers to dial an extra 9 to get an outside line. 
Most of us know that, but too many people do not realize that you also 
have to dial 9 before dialing 911 on these phones, and if you don't 
dial the 9 first, you can't reach emergency services.
  As you can imagine, in desperate situations, being able to quickly 
reach first responders can mean the difference between life and death.
  This very issue led to a tragedy in Texas several years ago. Kari 
Dunn was killed while her 9-year-old daughter tried to call for help. 
Kari's daughter did what she thought she was supposed to do in an 
emergency, dial 911. But because the system she was using required her 
to dial that additional 9 first, she only heard silence on the other 
  Building on the Herculean effort of Kari Dunn's family, we are one 
step closer to fixing this problem once and for all.
  H.R. 582 is an important step toward making our systems work better 
in an emergency. But for all the good this bill does, it still leaves 
work to be done. Specifically, these multiline systems still often fail 
to deliver accurate location information to first responders. That 
means that if someone calls 911 from this very building that we are 
sitting in, for instance, precious minutes could tick by as emergency 
personnel struggle to figure out where the call came from in this 
enormous complex.
  That delay could be the difference between life and death. We must 
act to correct this problem, too, because making sure the call goes 
through is only helpful if public safety officials can find the caller.
  Democrats tried to include such a provision in the version of this 
bill from last Congress, and at that time we received a commitment from 
Chairman Walden to work together on a separate bill to address this 
concern. We were not able to solve this problem last Congress, and we 
expect the commitment will carry over to this Congress.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. LANCE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from 
Tennessee (Mrs. Blackburn).
  Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, again, I thank the vice chairman and the 
ranking member for their persistence on this measure. I also commend 
Mr. Gohmert, who has worked with Kari's dad and has seen this through.
  We are pleased to get this on its way to the President's desk. 
Indeed, we are going to continue to work on the enhanced 911 
requirements because we do think that that is important. Technology 
allows more precise indications of exactly, precisely where phone calls 
are coming from. But solving this problem is one we need to do today.
  All of us who are moms and dads and have children and grandchildren, 
you train them to dial 911. I am certain that that is what Kari did 
with her daughter: If there is ever an emergency, dial 911.
  And the fact is that this required the preceding digit, an extra 
number, to be dialed in order to access that outside line that would 
have delivered that 911 call.
  So as we look at 50 years of 911 service and Kari's 36th birthday, 
which is coming up tomorrow, it is so appropriate that we take this 
action. So I thank Mr. Gohmert and the members of the committee who 
have continued the diligence on this.
  Mr. MICHAEL F. DOYLE of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, at this time, it 
gives me great pleasure to yield such time as she may consume to the 
gentlewoman from the California (Ms. Eshoo), a valuable member of our 
Energy and Commerce Committee.
  Ms. ESHOO. Mr. Speaker, I thank our terrific ranking member for 
yielding time to me and for his leadership and that of our colleagues 
on the other side of the aisle.

  Kari's Law addresses a very serious problem and it has been outlined 
by Members on both sides of the aisle, and I support the bill.
  But it is very important for those who are listening into this 
discussion this morning that when anyone dials 911 from a hotel, from a 
large building of several stories, from office buildings, from our 
office buildings where our offices are--10 floors, 20 floors, 30 
floors--seconds really matter and they can make the difference between 
life or death. You should not have to dial 9 or some other prefix to 
get help.
  We already know that that is what happened in this tragic situation 
where the 9-year-old daughter was witnessing the actual murder taking 
place by her father, the estranged husband of Kari. That woman lost her 
  So what is missing in this legislation is accuracy for multiline 
telephone systems. Once your call reaches the 911 call center, whomever 
answers that call needs to know exactly where you are to dispatch first 
responders. Now, if you are in a single-family home, it is easy. But if 
you are in any one of these buildings, hotels, or office buildings, the 
first responders have to go floor by floor. That takes a long time. We 
know because we walk from floor to floor just to get over to the 
Capitol. It takes us 7 or 8 minutes to get from Cannon House Office 
Building to the Capitol.
  So if you call 911 again from the 10th floor of a 30-story office 
building, it takes first responders a long time to get there.
  Oftentimes, during an emergency, individuals who have called in, they 
don't really know exactly where they are, or they are so panicked that 
they are blinded by what is going on that they can't express that to 
the dispatcher. That is why location technology is really important.
  I offered an amendment when this bill was taken up at the Energy and 
Commerce Committee to include location technology. That was rejected by 
the majority, but they promised that they would work with me in order 
to bring that about.
  Despite a lot of reaching out, et cetera, it didn't happen. I am once 
again offering legislation to establish that there will be location 
technology applied to multiline telephone systems. I think it is 
essential, and I don't know anyone who would disagree with that. It 
just didn't happen. It is not in this bill. But I think that it is 
important to highlight, as we celebrate the work that has been done, 
the important step that this takes, that there is a hole in it.
  So as has been said by other Members, we are approaching the 50th 
anniversary next week of the first 911 call ever made in our country. I 
would like to urge my colleagues to work with me to build on the 
important progress that this bill represents, Kari's Law, to ensure 
that all multiline telephone systems provide a caller's location when 
they dial 911 so that the full breadth and depth of an emergency system 
actually reaches them.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank our ranking member for yielding time to me.
  Mr. LANCE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Texas 
(Mr. Gohmert), the principal sponsor.
  Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, I certainly thank my new friend, Mr. 
Leonard Lance, from New Jersey for his great help in marshaling this 
bill, and I appreciate the bipartisan support. I understand there is 
another element regarding location and there is some disagreement. I 
see the merit. I understand some have concerns.
  But what we found out, just to go back, people have talked about how 
Kari Hunt was viscously attacked by her estranged husband, and her 
little 9-year-old daughter calling 911. The way that was learned was--
and by the way, she was not only stabbed 21 times, she was repeatedly 
struck. This is an attack that went on over several minutes.
  Her brutal, mean-spirited estranged husband now says from prison: 
Well, I don't think it would have mattered if a 911 call had went 
  He was attacking her for several minutes. The police could get there 
in Marshall in a couple of minutes. It would have made all the 

                              {time}  1245

  But the way it was learned was that Hank had his little 9-year-old 
granddaughter in his lap after Kari was pronounced dead and was trying 
to console

[[Page H994]]

her. She was weeping and said to her grandfather:
  I don't know what happened. I kept dialing 911 and nothing ever 
happened. I would hang up, and I would dial 911, and nothing happened.
  That is when Hank began to look into it and found out the situation. 
Then, after he brought it to my attention, we got to looking into it. 
The hotel associations and the other groups have been very helpful.
  It turns out that it is not an expense. All it takes is the 
government directing to make sure these phones are programmed so that 
when you dial 911, it goes straight out. It won't cost anything. The 
programmers themselves have said: Hey, if you have a problem, let us 
know. We will come out and fix that for free.
  So all it takes is this government saying: Just do it, so when a 
child or adult or anyone dials 911 it goes out.
  I thank my friend, Marsha Blackburn; I thank Senator Klobuchar for 
her work; and my staff, Caralee Conklin and Andrew Keyes, particularly, 
for working on this.
  Tomorrow, Kari would have turned 36. I believe that this will prevent 
any other Karis in the future from having their birthday celebrated 
after they are deceased. This will be a legacy for Kari and for Hank, 
who are the family, and for her daughter.
  I thank everyone involved in making this happen, and I thank my 
Democrat friend for working with us.
  Mr. LANCE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas 
(Mr. Burgess).
  Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, we all teach our kids. We teach them how to stay safe 
and how to respond in an emergency. They learn things like stop, drop, 
and roll for fires; don't talk to strangers; look both ways before you 
cross the street; and dial 911 in emergencies.
  Unfortunately, there is no lesson explaining that on some phones you 
must dial 9 to get an outside line before you dial 911. Other phones 
even have additional numbers, and they are not the same for every phone 
  Multiline phone systems like those found in offices--our offices, 
hotels, and hospitals--make our lives easier by condensing multiple 
lines into a single phone. One feature of multiline phone systems is 
that, in order to get outside of the internal lines, you must dial a 
specific code or set of digits. It doesn't seem like a big deal or even 
necessarily life threatening, but to this young girl trying to save her 
mother, that is exactly what a multiline phone system in Marshall, 
Texas, became.
  We have heard the story. In 2013, Kari Dunn was stabbed by her 
estranged husband while her daughter attempted to dial 911 multiple 
times. She knew the number to call to save her mother's life, but she 
didn't know to dial 9 to get an outside line. She didn't realize what a 
multiphone system represented. The emergency personnel subsequently 
were not getting notified in time.
  The Energy and Commerce Committee marked up this bill in a previous 
Congress and supported its passage into law. I was grateful to support 
the bill back then. I am grateful to Mr. Gohmert for continuing to 
press this issue. I look forward to voting for this again.
  This tragedy occurred in Texas, but it could have happened anywhere. 
In emergencies, every minute counts. We must remove obstacles to 
emergency response, and this bill does just that.
  Mr. LANCE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished 
gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Shimkus).
  (Mr. SHIMKUS asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
  Mr. SHIMKUS. Mr. Speaker, it is a great day. I came down here, also, 
with Congresswoman Eshoo. We chair the bipartisan NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus. 
Fifty years is a great anniversary. The caucus has been around 50 
years. It is one of those true bipartisan developments. When Anna and I 
started, it was Conrad Burns in the Senate and Hillary Clinton on the 
Senate side.
  When addressing 911 services and the problems that roll out when we 
have a successful program, there is nothing perfect. We have to come 
back and revisit. But it is like baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet. 
What could be wrong with being focused on getting emergency services to 
people in need? That is why 911 is such a great service.
  I want to thank my colleague from Texas (Mr. Gohmert) for bringing 
this up.
  We always have to keep changing and updating. As technology moves 
from the dial-up phone to the iPhone and we start doing text and we 
start doing video, the NextGen 9-1-1 Caucus works with industry, the 
telecommunications sector, and the Peace apps to make sure that 
ou first-line responders have the best opportunity to find, as Anna 
said, what floor. That is a big issue.

  Technology will overcome that some day, and we have to achieve what 
we can achieve now, but never shy away from the fact that we can always 
refine and get better. This is a good start.
  I want to thank my colleague from Texas. I appreciate his work. I do 
appreciate my friends on the Democratic side for their commitment and 
support on this over the years, not just today.
  Mr. MICHAEL F. DOYLE of Pennsylvania. I will close for our side now, 
Mr. Speaker.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to first congratulate Representative Gohmert and 
Senator Klobuchar for this piece of legislation.
  I hope that our friends on the Republican side will work with us to 
improve the location accuracy for these multiline systems. I think that 
is an important piece of unfinished business that we need to do to make 
this bill even better. We support the bill.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. LANCE. Mr. Speaker, this is the way Congress should work in a 
bicameral and a bipartisan capacity. I think those of us who serve on 
the Energy and Commerce Committee are very proud of our service there. 
It is the committee in the House of Representatives the sends the most 
bills to the floor--the most bills that pass, the most bills that pass 
in the Senate, and the most bills that reach the desk of the President 
of the United States. This was true of President Obama, as I am sure it 
will be true of President Trump.
  This act will improve the lives of the American people. We mourn the 
loss of the terrible tragedy in Texas, but out of that terrible tragedy 
we hope to improve the American Nation, and this certainly will do 
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Lance) that the House suspend the rules 
and concur in the Senate amendment to the bill, H.R. 582.
  The question was taken.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds 
being in the affirmative, the ayes have it.
  Mr. LANCE. Mr. Speaker, I object to the vote on the ground that a 
quorum is not present and make the point of order that a quorum is not 
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further 
proceedings on this question will be postponed.
  The point of no quorum is considered withdrawn.