Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Greg Ruben / Axios

The Federal Communications Commission will decide Thursday whether to move forward with an effort to cap the amount it spends on subsides for phone and internet service for low-income people, and other changes to the "lifeline" program.Why it matters: There were more than 12 million subscribers to the service as of 2016.The details: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's proposal includes putting a cap on the program's spending, but does not specify how high it would be. Advocates who support the way the program operates now are especially worried about another proposal from Pai, which would restrict participation in the program to "facilities-based" providers — meaning companies that own rather than rent their network infrastructure.

  • The commission argues that this will encourage the buildout of networks for low-income people and drive costs down. Advocates say it's a bridge too far. "This is heartless," said Jessica Gonzalez of the advocacy group Free Press, saying that the vast majority of people get their Lifeline service through providers who wouldn't be allowed under Pai's proposal. It's also been criticized by head of the conservative Free State Foundation.
  • While both the cap and the broad new requirements for providers are part of a proposal that will require public comment before it can be voted on again and take effect, commissioners will vote tomorrow on whether to immediately make it impossible for companies that lease their networks to get a higher subsidy offered on tribal lands.

The bigger picture: The Lifeline program is the object of political controversy, with conservatives branding it derisively as "Obamaphone" during the last administration. Pai has long argued waste and fraud is too common in the program but others say that earlier reforms have significantly addressed those issues. The chairman has also faced questions about how his efforts to limit Lifeline square with the push for expanded broadband access he has made his signature issue.

What's next? Commissioners will vote Thursday only on whether to officially consider the cap and other controversial elements of Pai's plan. The public will then have a chance to comment on the ideas. Another vote is required to make the changes.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
30 mins ago - Technology

Google's parent shuts down effort to deliver internet via balloons

Image: Loon

Alphabet is shutting down Loon, one of its "moonshots," which aimed to deliver internet service via high-altitude balloons.

Why it matters: The effort was one of several approaches designed to get high-speed connectivity to some of the world's most remote spots and proved useful in the aftermath of disasters that shut down traditional infrastructure.

Dave Lawler, author of World
46 mins ago - World

What has and hasn't changed as Biden takes over U.S. foreign policy

Photo Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden swiftly recommitted the U.S. to the Paris climate pact and the World Health Organization, but America's broader foreign policy is in a state of flux between the Trump and Biden eras.

Driving the news: One of the most striking moves from the Biden administration thus far was a show of continuity — concurring with the Trump administration's last-minute determination that China had committed "genocide" against Uyghur Muslims.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: New coronavirus cases down, but more bad news ahead — Fighting COVID-19's effects on gender equality.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: NYC postpones vaccine appointments following shipment delays — Private companies step in to fill vaccine logistics vacuum.
  4. World: Biden will order U.S. to rejoin World Health OrganizationBiden to bring U.S. into global COVAX initiative for equitable vaccine access.