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WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, Rep. Yvette Clarke (D–New York) filed a discharge petition calling for debate and a floor vote on her legislation, the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act, that would provide an additional $7 billion to save a successful broadband-subsidy initiative.

The Federal Communications Commission, which administers the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), will run out of funding for the ACP in a matter of weeks if additional federal funding is not provided. The program, created as part of the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure package, now helps connect more than 23 million U.S. households living near the poverty line or enrolled in federal-aid programs like Medicaid and SNAP.

The latest count of House supporters of Clarke's legislation is 224, including 21 Republicans, surpassing the majority benchmark necessary to pass the bill and extend funding for this crucial program.

Rep. Clarke introduced this legislation in January with bipartisan co-sponsorship from Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R–Pennsylvania). Sen. Peter Welch (D–Vermont) and Sen. J.D. Vance (R–Ohio) introduced a companion measure in the Senate. The ACP 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.

Free Press Action Internet Campaign Director Heather Franklin said:

“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. We applaud Representative Clarke for using all of the tools at her disposal to push this critical legislation forward. If lawmakers are serious about closing the digital divide, they must get the cost of connectivity under control. The most immediate way to do that is by joining Representative Clarke and forcing House leadership to bring this bill to the floor.

“There is absolutely no time to waste. If Congress doesn’t act, the internet bills for one out of every six homes in the country will go up. And we know, thanks to a survey the FCC conducted late last year, that the loss of the ACP would disrupt the service of a majority of the program’s enrollees.

“It's no surprise that this legislation has garnered so much support from both sides of the political aisle. More than 23 million low-income households rely on the ACP to access educational opportunities; to find information about 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 political win-win, as it greatly benefits rural, urban and suburban constituents in red and blue states alike.”

Background: By filing a discharge petition, a member of Congress can bring a bill out of committee to be voted on by the entire chamber. The signatures of an absolute majority of House members are required, and the measure may only be filed after the legislation in question has sat in committee for at least 30 legislative days without being reported.

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