Luján, Heinrich Join Colleagues in Letter of Support for FCC E-Rate Rulemaking


 U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Chair of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, and U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined their colleagues in a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel supporting the Commission’s proposal to expand the E-Rate program to allow schools and libraries to loan out Wi-Fi hotspots to students and educators. In their letter, the lawmakers specifically call for the expansion and modernization of the E-Rate hotspot program to help reduce educational disparities and ensure that low-income students are no longer left behind.

Last year, Senators Heinrich and Luján introduced the bipartisan Tribal Connect Act to make it easier for Tribes to secure high-speed internet access at Tribal Essential Community-Serving Institutions through the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Universal Service Fund (USF) Schools and Libraries Program, or E-rate program. U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) introduced the companion legislation in the House.

In their letter to Chairwoman Rosenworcel, the lawmakers wrote: “[We] are excited that the Commission has proposed to update the E-Rate program to allow schools and libraries to provide Wi-Fi hotspots and wireless internet services to students and educators. This proposal properly recognizes that learning now extends beyond the physical premises of school buildings. When a sixth grader is completing a homework assignment through an online educational platform or a ninth grader is attending class through a video conferencing application, they are clearly engaged in educational activities.

The lawmakers continued, “In the Communications Act, Congress rightfully provided the FCC with the flexibility to structure and strengthen the E-Rate program as educational conditions change. With millions of students at risk of losing internet access at home, we are glad to see the FCC exercising this authority and modernizing the E-Rate program, and we encourage the Commission to provide schools and libraries with the flexibility to adapt their programs to local conditions while continuing to effectively guard against fraud and waste.”

Cosigners in the Senate include Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai’i), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Cosigners in the House include Representatives Alma Adams (NC-12), Collin Allred (TX-32), Joyce Beatty (OH-03), Sanford Bishop (GA-02), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Anna Eshoo (CA-16), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Dwight Evans (NC-12), Dan Goldman (NY-10), Jimmy Gomez (CA- 34), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-07), Val Hoyle (OR-04), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Teresa Leger Fernández (NM-03), Stephen Lynch (MA-08), Doris Matsui (CA-07), Betty McCollum (MN-04), James McGovern (MA-02), Grace Napolitano (CA-31), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Katie Porter (CA-47), Deborah Ross (NC-02), Adam Schiff (CA-30), Melanie Stansbury (NM-01), Haley Stevens (MI-10), Mike Thompson (CA-04), Jill Tokuda (HI-02), Paul Tonko (NY-20), and Nikema Williams (GA-05).

The full text of the letter can be found HERE.

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