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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
50 mins ago - Technology

Intel CEO sees making own chips as a matter of national security

Pat Gelsinger. Photo: Axios on HBO

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is putting the pressure on the U.S. government to help subsidize chip manufacturing, insisting the current reliance on plants in Taiwan and Korea as "geopolitically unstable."

Why it matters: There is bipartisan support for funding the domestic semiconductor industry, but Congress has yet to sign the check. The Senate has passed the CHIPS Act that includes $52 billion in semiconductor investment, but it has yet to pass the House.

Updated 54 mins ago - World

17 U.S. and Canadian missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children are among a group of 17 missionaries kidnapped in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, per a statement from Christian Aid Ministries Sunday.

The latest: "The group of 16 U.S citizens and one Canadian citizen includes five men, seven women, and five children," the Ohio-based group said. Haitian police inspector Frantz Champagne on Sunday identified the 400 Mawozo gang as the group responsible, in a statement to AP.

Ina Fried, author of Login
2 hours ago - Technology

Intel CEO wants to compete against Apple

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger hasn't given up on the idea of the Mac once again using Intel chips, but he acknowledges it will probably be years before he gets that chance.

  • In the meantime, he is focused on powering Windows machines that give Apple CEO Tim Cook a run for his money.

Why it matters: In getting pushed out of the Mac, Intel not only lost a customer but picked up a new rival.