Hundreds of governments, advocacy groups urge Congress to extend broadband discount program

State and local governments and civil rights groups are calling on Congress to extend the FCC's popular Affordable Connectivity Program.
(Getty Images)

The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday joined 270 other civil rights groups and local, state and tribal governments to sign and submit a letter addressed to members of the U.S. House of Representatives, urging them to extend then the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program.

The letter urges state representatives to sign a discharge petition filed last week by Rep. Yvette Clarke, D–N.Y. The petition would force a debate followed by a floor vote on her legislation — the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act. The broadband subsidy program, which is used by more than 23 million households, is set to run out of funding this month. Clarke’s bill would provide it an additional $7 billion.

In addition to the ACLU, signers of the letter include school districts, environmental groups, digital equity groups and a list of governments including the cities of Boston, Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon.

President Joe Biden has also been calling on Republicans in Congress since last October to save the $14.2 billion ACP program that he signed into law in November 2021 as part of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law.


The letter also notes that a lapse in funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program could limit the impact of recent federal investments in closing the digital divide, such as the $42 billion Broadband Equity Access and Deployment, or BEAD, program.

According to a survey conducted by the FCC at the end of last year, more than 75% of ACP beneficiaries said that losing access to the program’s benefits would disrupt their service — up to and including dropping internet service altogether. Nearly half of households enrolled in the program are military families, the letter noted, adding they could lose their ability to access job opportunities, education, health care, online banking and government services, as well as the ability to stay connected to what’s going on in their communities.

“Unfortunately, in less than two weeks, the internet bills for one out of every six homes in the U.S. are going to rise because Congress has thus far failed to appropriate more funding to keep those households online with ACP support,” the letter reads. “Just a few weeks after that, the program will lapse entirely. We urge you to sign the discharge petition put forth by Rep. Clarke because time is of the essence. We cannot let these families lose their vital connections merely because Congress failed to vote on an immensely popular bill with a bipartisan majority’s support.”

Keely Quinlan

Written by Keely Quinlan

Keely Quinlan reports on privacy and digital government for StateScoop. She was an investigative news reporter with Clarksville Now in Tennessee, where she resides, and her coverage included local crimes, courts, public education and public health. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Stereogum and other outlets. She earned her bachelor’s in journalism and master’s in social and cultural analysis from New York University.

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