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WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, Rep. Yvette Clarke (D–New York) announced that more than 140 additional members of Congress had joined as co-sponsors of the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act, legislation that would provide an additional $7 billion to continue a successful broadband-subsidy initiative.

The Federal Communications Commission, which administers the program, says that without this additional funding, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) will cease providing full subsidies by the end of April. On Monday, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel called on Congress to renew funding for the program, which now helps connect more than 23 million U.S. households living near the poverty line or enrolled in federal-aid programs.

“Many of these households have contacted the commission to express their disappointment and frustration that they can no longer sign up for the program,” Rosenworcel wrote in a letter to Congress. “They worry that without ACP support they will lose access to employment, education, health care, and more.”

In January, a bipartisan group of lawmakers — including Rep. Clarke, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R–Pennsylvania), Sen. Peter Welch (D–Vermont) and Sen. J.D. Vance (R–Ohio) — introduced this legislation to appropriate fiscal-year 2024 funds for the ACP. Congress has been busy this week finalizing a federal spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.

Free Press Action Internet Campaign Director Heather Franklin said:

“The ACP is a lifeline for more than 23 million low-income households struggling to ensure they have the ability to connect affordably to the internet. They need the ACP to access information about education; to find food, health care and jobs; to reach essential government services; and to learn more about what’s going on in their communities. The program is a win-win in Washington, as it greatly benefits rural, urban and suburban constituents in red and blue states alike. It’s no surprise the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act has already gained so many supporters in Congress.  

“In a nation as wealthy as the United States, there’s simply no excuse for anyone to have to choose between staying connected to their utilities and putting food on the table. If lawmakers are serious about closing the digital divide in the United States, they must get the cost of connectivity under control. The ACP program has succeeded in doing that while providing families with access to a resource that’s crucial to functioning in the 21st century. It’s now time for even more members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans alike — to join their colleagues in support of this bipartisan bill.”

Background: Congress created the ACP broadband-access subsidy as part of the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure package, building on earlier broadband-affordability and -relief efforts in COVID-response bills. The program provides households 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.


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