Luján Highlights Growing Bipartisan Momentum for Affordable Connectivity


U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Chair of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, announced additional co-sponsors for his amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2023 to strengthen the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), complete the equipment removal of China-based companies, Huawei and ZTE, and allow the FCC to reauction certain spectrum licenses to create more responsive networks for consumers.

U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Brian Schatz (D- Hawai'i), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Roger Marshall (R-KS), John Fetterman (D-PA), Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) are now co-sponsors of the amendment introduced this week by Senator Luján, JD Vance (R-Ohio), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

“There is growing bipartisan support to strengthen the Affordable Connectivity Program and keep this critical lifeline alive for more than 55 million Americans. There are now 16 Senators from both sides of the aisle, representing millions of people and diverse states, backing this amendment,” said Luján, Chair of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband. “Congress must take action to save the ACP to lower costs for American families, boost the economy, and promote job creation and economic mobility.”

“Millions of Ohioans rely on the Affordable Connectivity Program for access to online schooling, reaching medical professionals, and other essential tasks. That’s why I’m doing all that I can to ensure the ACP has the funding it needs. I’m proud to introduce this amendment with Senator Luján because it reflects a bipartisan consensus of the Senate. I look forward to getting this done,” said Senator Vance.

“The Affordable Connectivity Program is an essential tool to keep millions of families, seniors and veterans connected to the high-speed internet that powers the modern economy. Our bipartisan coalition is working together to ensure families don’t get disconnected and fall into digital darkness,” said Senator Welch. “This bipartisan amendment contains compromises — but I will keep fighting to make sure this program continues beyond May and does not lapse. It’s time for Congress to stop stalling.”

“The ACP’s current trajectory and cost is unsustainable. We have warned the Biden administration this day would come. That is why I have been fighting to reform the program before it is extended. This tailored legislation will help connect the Mississippians that need broadband access the most to the American dream,” said Senator Wicker.

“High-speed affordable internet is essential infrastructure, plain and simple. Whether it’s a parent logging on for the work day or a student trying to submit their homework, no family should have to worry if they can afford a stable internet connection,” said Senator Padilla. “We must fully fund this program to ensure millions of families can afford to get connected at home.”

“The Affordable Connectivity Program has been critical to connecting our most remote and underserved communities to the rest of North Dakota and the world. Our legislation bridges the digital divide by keeping this program funded and operational so every farmer, student, veteran, or senior citizen in North Dakota stays connected. By maintaining affordable access to high-speed internet, we are helping contribute to our state and country’s economic growth,” said Senator Cramer.

“Every Ohio family and Ohio business deserves affordable high-speed internet,” said Senator Brown. “The Affordable Connectivity Program lowers the cost of high-speed internet for one in four Ohio households – from Steubenville to Sandusky. This bipartisan amendment is just common sense – and we need to act immediately to extend it.”

Senator Luján also announced the support of more than 20 advocacy groups. Their statements of support are available HERE.

“In modern society, broadband is every bit as essential as food, water, electric, and housing. Without it, families will struggle to access school, work, healthcare, government benefits, the news, or even a social life. There simply isn’t time to wait – without immediate action, more than 23 million households could find themselves disconnected from the internet in just weeks. The ACLU is grateful for the efforts of the bipartisan group of Senators who are pushing to ensure American households stay connected,” said Jenna Leventoff, Senior Policy Counsel, ACLU.

“The R Street Institute is proud to support this important proposal to extend both Rip and Replace and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) with an appropriate pay-for. This proposal makes meaningful reforms to target customers most in need and streamline eligibility requirements, which R Street has long supported achieving in a revenue-neutral way. While this will only temporarily extend the ACP, R Street hopes the efforts of the Universal Service Fund (USF) working group continues to find a solution and permanent home for this program within USF,” said Jonathan Cannon, Policy Counsel Technology & Innovation at the R Street Institute.

“CWA members strongly support the continuation of the Affordable Connectivity Program which enables critical internet access for millions of American families and supports good jobs in our communities. We are encouraged that a bipartisan group of Senators is working to prevent the ACP from completely shutting down and on a permanent funding solution,” said Shane Larson, Communications Workers of America Senior Director for Government Affairs and Policy.

“Many Rip & Replace participants, especially in Western states, including those serving Tribal lands will be forced to decide where to remove covered equipment and not replace it, eliminating services available today, both to their subscribers as well to anyone that roams onto their networks. Tens of millions of 2 customers roam onto these networks while travelling to – and through – impacted areas and will have their connectivity and access to emergency services and 9-1-1 reduced or eliminated altogether… Further, having a broadband connection has become critical to participation in the modern U.S. economy and society. The ACP has been enormously beneficial in helping achieve this reality – the over 23 million American households, including over 4.5 million senior citizens and nearly 1 million veteran households, use this subsidy for affordable broadband services.” –Excerpt from letter undersigned by the following organizations: Competitive Carriers Association, CTI, INCOMPAS, NATE: The, Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association, Rural Wireless Association, Telecommunications Industry Association, USTelecom – The Broadband Association, Wireless Infrastructure Association, WISPA – Broadband Without Boundaries, and WTA – Advocates for Rural Broadband.

Text of the amendment is available HERE.

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