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Exclusive: Dems ramp up ACP funding push

Apr 17, 2024
Illustration of quarter as the base of the wi-fi symbol

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The New Democrat Coalition is calling on House Speaker Mike Johnson to bring legislation to the floor to renew the Affordable Connectivity Program in a letter shared exclusively with Axios.

Why it matters: Efforts by Democrats to renew the internet bill discount are kicking into full gear as the program's expiration looms over more than 23 million Americans.

State of play: The program — which offers low-income households $30 and Tribal households $75 per month to help pay their internet bills — will expire at the end of April.

  • Earlier this week, the FCC announced that in May the benefit will decrease to $14 for non-Tribal households and $35 for Tribal households.
  • Internet service providers can choose whether to provide the partial benefit or not.
  • After May, ACP benefits will be completely taken away.

What they're saying: "We are disappointed that despite the incredible impact on the 23 million households that have enrolled across the country, House Republican Leadership has blocked any consideration of the funding it needs to keep running, pushing us towards the program's extinction," the April 17 letter led by Reps. Angie Craig and Nikki Budzinski states.

The big picture: The ACP is one of President Biden and Democrats' biggest legislative wins that's had an immediate impact on voters.

  • Republican lawmakers — whether they voted in favor of a sweeping infrastructure law that housed the ACP or not — also stand to gain from the program's renewal, which has benefitted veterans and Americans in rural, GOP strongholds.

The White House's strategy also recently shifted to single out Republicans after months of calling on members from both sides of the aisle to fund ACP.

  • The Biden administration this week is continuing to push congressional Republicans to act, a White House official said.
  • The push includes highlighting that nearly half of the households enrolled in the ACP are military families.
  • The White House is also encouraging internet companies to offer their customers low-cost or no-cost plans or provide discounts to defray the change in subsidy.
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