Republicans slam broadband reductions for poor folks, threaten to kill program

Senate Minority Whip John Thune gestures with his right hand while speaking to reporters.
Enlarge / Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) speaks to reporters after the weekly Senate Republican caucus lunch on November 14, 2023, in Washington, DC.

Getty Photos | Anna Rose Layden

Republican members of Congress blasted a program that offers $30 month-to-month broadband reductions to folks with low incomes, accusing the Federal Communications Fee of being “wasteful.” The lawmakers urged in a letter to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel that they might attempt to block funding for the Inexpensive Connectivity Program (ACP), which is predicted to expire of cash in April 2024.

“As lawmakers with oversight duty over the ACP, we have now raised considerations, shared by the FCC Inspector Basic, relating to this system’s effectiveness in connecting non-subscribers to the Web,” the lawmakers wrote. “When you have repeatedly claimed that the ACP is critical for connecting collaborating households to the Web, it seems the overwhelming majority of tax {dollars} have gone to households that already had broadband previous to the subsidy.”

The letter was despatched Friday by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), and Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio). Cruz is the highest Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee and Thune is the highest Republican on the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband. McMorris Rodgers is chair of the Home Commerce Committee, and Latta is chair of the Home Subcommittee on Communications and Know-how.

The letter questioned Rosenworcel’s testimony at a latest Home listening to during which she warned that 25 million households might lose Web entry if Congress does not renew the ACP reductions. The ACP was created by congressional laws, however Republicans are cautious of constant it. This system started with $14.2 billion rather less than two years in the past.

“At a listening to earlier than the Home Vitality and Commerce Committee on November 30, 2023, you asserted—with out proof and opposite to the FCC’s personal knowledge—that ’25 million households’ can be ‘unplug[ged]…from the Web’ if Congress doesn’t present new funding for the ACP,” the letter mentioned. “This isn’t true. As Congress considers the way forward for taxpayer broadband subsidies, we ask you to right the listening to document and make public correct details about the ACP.”

“Reckless spending spree”

The letter criticizes what it calls “the Biden administration’s reckless spending spree” and questioned whether or not the ACP is value paying for:

It’s incumbent on lawmakers to guard taxpayers and make funding selections primarily based on clear proof. Sadly, your testimony pushes “details” in regards to the ACP which can be deeply deceptive and have the potential to exacerbate the fiscal disaster with out producing significant advantages to the American client. We subsequently ask you to complement your testimony from November 30, 2023, with the proper details about the variety of People that may “lose” broadband if the ACP doesn’t obtain extra funds, and proper the listening to document accordingly by January 5, 2024.

Throughout the November 30 listening to, Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) mentioned she’s going to introduce laws to re-fund this system. The ACP has widespread assist from client advocates and the telecom trade. Moreover, the governors of 25 US states and Puerto Rico urged Congress to increase the ACP in a November 13 letter.

The Biden administration has requested $6 billion to fund this system by December 2024. Rosenworcel’s workplace declined to touch upon the Republicans’ letter when contacted by Ars at present.

Though the FCC operates the low cost program, it has to take action inside parameters set by Congress. The FCC’s ACP rulemaking famous that the income-eligibility pointers have been decided by Congress.

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