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WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-New York), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania), Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vermont) and Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) introduced legislation to appropriate fiscal-year 2024 funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a broadband-access subsidy created as part of the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure package.

The program, which could run out of funding as soon as April, provides households living near the poverty line or enrolled in other federal-aid programs with up to $30 per month for the internet package of their choosing from participating providers — and up to $75 per month for people living on Tribal lands.

More than 22 million households are currently enrolled in the program. This legislation would provide a critical extension of the ACP through the end of 2024 while Congress explores a permanent funding mechanism for this essential program. In a letter Monday to the leadership of the Senate Commerce Committee, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel wrote that in lieu of additional funding the agency had no other choice but to begin winding down the program.

Free Press Action Internet Campaign Director Heather Franklin said:

“Free Press Action is immensely grateful for this bipartisan effort to fund the Affordable Connectivity Program. Low-income families have come to rely on the ACP to make ends meet and ensure they have the ability to participate in everyday life. Access to high-speed internet isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. Without it, you can’t access basic things like education, health care, jobs, government services, and other information about what’s going on in your community.

“Without renewed ACP funding, more than 22 million households could run out of the support they need to pay their broadband bill in less than four months. The program has proven greatly beneficial to rural, urban and suburban families, which is why it enjoys bipartisan support in Washington and state capitals around the country. If we’re serious about closing the digital divide in the United States, we must get the cost of connectivity under control. The ACP plays a central role in doing that while providing people everywhere with access to a resource that's become essential to our collective well being. It’s now time for others in Congress to join in support of this vital effort and extend funding for affordable high-speed internet access for everyone.”


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