45 Bipartisan Members of Congress Call for Extension of Affordable Broadband Access Program 

45 Bipartisan Members of Congress Call for Extension of Affordable Broadband Access Program 

 

Millions of Families Rely on “Affordable Connectivity Program” for Broadband

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, August 17, 2023, a bipartisan group of 45 Members of Congress, 29 Democrats and 16 Republicans — led by Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1) — wrote to congressional leadership and called for an extension of the federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) in the upcoming government appropriations bill.

 

Unfortunately, one in five American households lack access to broadband. Nearly 40% of eligible Americans rely on ACP to maintain internet access and that number is rapidly growing. Current federal investment for ACP is expected to be depleted by 2024.

 

ACP provides millions of families with financial assistance to ensure every household nationwide has access to high-speed and reliable broadband. Specifically, the program provides eligible households with up to $30 per month towards their internet bills, and a one-time subsidy of $100 toward desktops, laptops, or tablet computers for children and hardworking families.

 

The signatory list of 45 bipartisan Members of Congress includes Reps. Gottheimer (NJ-5), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1), James Moylan (Guam-At Large), Brittany Pettersen (CO-7), David Valadao (CA-22), Jimmy Panetta (CA-19), Debbie Dingell (MI-6), Daniel Kildee (MI-8), David Trone (MD-6), Steven Horsford (NV-4), Haley Stevens (MI-11), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Jim Costa (CA-21), Elissa Slotkin (MI-7), Susie Lee (NV-3), Michael Lawler (NY-17), Young Kim (CA-40), Scott Peters (CA-50), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-6), Greg Landsman (OH-1), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Chris Pappas (NH-1), Sanford Bishop, Jr. (GA-2), Marcus Molinaro (NY-19), Wiley Nickel (NC-13), Hillary Scholten (MI-3), Tony Gonzales (TX-23), Bradley Schneider (IL-10), Donald Norcross (NJ-1), Donald Davis (NC-1), Angie Craig (MN-2), Jenniffer González-Colón (PR-At Large), Darren Soto (FL-9), Thomas Kean, Jr. (NJ-7), Nick LaLota (NY-1), Andrew Garbarino (NY-2), Dean Phillips (MN-3), Juan Ciscomani (AZ-6), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-5), Nancy Mace (SC-1), Derek Kilmer (WA-6), Abigail Spanberger (VA-7), Ed Case (HI-1), Anthony D’Esposito (NY-4), and Don Bacon (NE-2).

 

“In the Twenty-first Century, broadband connectivity is essential to maximizing educational opportunities, stimulating economic growth, lowering health care costs, investing in a skilled workforce, and connecting individuals with their loved ones,” the bipartisan Members of Congress wrote in a letter today to Speaker McCarthy, House Minority Leader Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Schumer, and Senate Minority Leader McConnell. “We have a unique window of opportunity to ensure that every family and child — rural, urban, and suburban — have access to affordable broadband, and can thrive in the digital age. ACP has become a lifeline for Americans, and we cannot afford to let it expire. We strongly urge you to prioritize the extension of funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program in the upcoming government appropriations bill. Failure to extend funding would not only leave millions of families without access to the internet but also hinder our long-term competitiveness as a nation.”

 

Full text of the letter can be found here and below:

 

August 17, 2023

 

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy

Speaker

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC  20515

 

The Honorable Hakeem Jeffries

Minority Leader

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC  20515

 

The Honorable Chuck Schumer

Majority Leader

United States Senate

Washington, DC  20510

 

The Honorable Mitch McConnell

Minority Leader

United States Senate

Washington, DC  20510

 

Dear Speaker McCarthy, Leader Schumer, Leader Jeffries, and Leader McConnell:

 

We are writing to urge you to extend funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides families with financial assistance for broadband access, to help bridge the digital divide. Congress has a role in ensuring that high-speed and reliable broadband is accessible to every household, nationwide. We urge you to include full funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) in the upcoming government appropriations bill to ensure that households can access the broadband they desperately need.

 

In the Twenty-first Century, broadband connectivity is essential to maximizing educational opportunities, stimulating economic growth, lowering health care costs, investing in a skilled workforce, and connecting individuals with their loved ones. We saw during the pandemic how critical broadband access is to everything, from getting an education to health care to telemedicine to working from home. Unfortunately, one in five American households lack access to broadband. Nearly 40 percent of eligible Americans rely on ACP to maintain internet access and that number is rapidly growing. Current funding is expected to be depleted by 2024 creating an urgent need to extend funding.

 

ACP provides financial assistance that enables families to access broadband so that no one in our society is left behind. It helps families, Pell Grant recipients, and veterans afford high-speed broadband services — from monthly internet bills to installation fees and computer expenses, which often create significant financial burdens. Specifically, ACP provides eligible households with up to $30 per month towards their internet bills, and a one-time subsidy of $100 towards desktops, laptops, or tablet computers for children and hardworking families.

 

We cannot afford to let millions of Americans lose access to broadband. If funding for ACP is not extended, it would not only put the program’s success at risk, but also impede the progress of other federal broadband investments and initiatives. Families and businesses across the country need broadband access, and ACP has become a vital tool in securing this access. It plays a critical role in connecting households, while also promoting digital literacy, device distribution, technical support, and online services training, resulting in its high enrollment and strong bipartisan support.

 

However, connecting every American to high-speed, affordable broadband requires a public- private partnership, and it is the federal government’s responsibility to provide secure and reliable investments. With millions of families still lacking access to a service that has become essential for education, health care, and the economy, time is of the essence.

 

We have a unique window of opportunity to ensure that every family and child — rural, urban, and suburban — have access to affordable broadband, and can thrive in the digital age. ACP has become a lifeline for Americans, and we cannot afford to let it expire. We strongly urge you to prioritize the extension of funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program in the upcoming government appropriations bill. Failure to extend funding would not only leave millions of families without access to the internet but also hinder our long-term competitiveness as a nation.

 

Sincerely,

 

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

 

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