Republicans Blast FCC For Being 'Wasteful' In Its $30 Broadband Discount Program, Threaten To Block Funding

Zinger Key Points
  • Republican members of Congress have asked the FCC to explain the “wasteful discrepancies” in its Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).
  • Previously, in a House hearing testimony, FCC chairperson Jessica Rosenworcel said that the ACP would run out of money in April 2024.
  • This could “unplug” nearly 25 million households, according to Rosenworcel.

Republican senators and representatives have blasted the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for being "wasteful" in providing a $30 broadband discount to poor people.

What Happened: Republican senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash) and Bob Latta (R-Ohio), penned a letter to the FCC chairperson Jessica Rosenworcel blasting the communications regulator for "pushing facts about the ACP" that are "deeply misleading".

In their letter, the Republican lawmakers are referring to the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which aims to make internet connectivity affordable for millions of households.

“As lawmakers with oversight responsibility over the ACP, we have raised concerns, shared by the FCC Inspector General, regarding the program’s effectiveness in connecting non-subscribers to the Internet,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter, calling Rosenworcel's testimony misleading.

The letter questions the ACP's effectiveness in making broadband connectivity accessible, asking if the program is worth paying for in the first place.

"Unfortunately, your testimony pushes “facts” about the ACP that are deeply misleading and have the potential to exacerbate the fiscal crisis without producing meaningful benefits to the American consumer," the lawmakers added.

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Why It Matters: The letter by Republican lawmakers talks about Rosenworcel's testimony at a recent House hearing where she warned that 25 million households could lose internet connectivity if Congress does not provide funding for the ACP.

ACP was started two years ago with a funding of $14.2 billion. It is expected to run out of money in April 2024 if its funding is not replenished.

"We need Congress to continue to fund this program. If Congress does not, in April of next year, we’ll have to unplug households and, based on current projections, it’ll be about 25 million households we will unplug from the Internet in April," said Rosenworcel in a House hearing.

However, the Republican members of Congress are not impressed – the letter points out "wasteful discrepancies" in the number of people enrolled in the ACP, which stands at 22 million.

"The number of households in the ACP – approximately 22 million – far exceeds the 16 million unconnected households according to 2021 Census data," the letter said, asking the FCC to explain the discrepancy of six million households.

The letter further asks the FCC to provide information about efforts to "prepare for a potential lapse in ACP funding" and how it intends to inform the households that could be impacted.

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Posted In: NewsPoliticsTechGeneralAffordable Connectivity ProgramBob LattabroadbandCathy McMorris RodgersConsumer TechFCCJessica RosenworcelJohn ThuneTed Cruz
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