Spanberger Works to Protect $30 Internet Discount for Virginia Families, Urges Lawmakers to Invest in Affordable Connectivity Program

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Expanded Eligibility for the “Affordable Connectivity Program” to More than 1.9 Million Virginians

WOODBRIDGE, Va. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger joined a group of 44 Democrats and Republicans in urging congressional leadership to invest in a key discount program that allows more Virginia families to access high-speed internet.

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward high-speed internet service for eligible households, including in Virginia. Eligibility for this program was expanded as part of the Spanberger-backed bipartisan infrastructure law.

In a letter sent to U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, U.S. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Spanberger and the bipartisan group of lawmakers called for Congress to prioritize extending ACP funding. In their letter, the lawmakers highlighted that one in five American households lack reliable access to broadband internet, making programs like the ACP so vital. Additionally, the group highlighted the program’s bipartisan support and high-enrollment — with 40 percent of eligible households in the United States relying on ACP funding to maintain high-speed internet access.

“In the twenty-first century, broadband connectivity is essential to maximizing educational opportunities, stimulating economic growth, lowering health care costs, investing in a skilled workforce, and connecting individuals with their loved ones. We saw during the pandemic how critical broadband access is to everything, from getting an education to health care to telemedicine to working from home,” wrote Spanberger and her colleagues. “We cannot afford to let millions of Americans lose access to broadband. If funding for ACP is not extended, it would not only put the program’s success at risk, but also impede the progress of other federal broadband investments and initiatives.”

Their letter continued, “We strongly urge you to prioritize the extension of funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program in the upcoming government appropriations bill. Failure to extend funding would not only leave millions of families without access to the internet but also hinder our long-term competitiveness as a nation.”

The Spanberger-signed letter was led by U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ-05).

Click here to read their letter, and the full text is below.                                                                     

Dear Speaker McCarthy, Leader Schumer, Leader Jeffries, and Leader McConnell:

We are writing to urge you to extend funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides families with financial assistance for broadband access, to help bridge the digital divide. Congress has a role in ensuring that high-speed and reliable broadband is accessible to every household, nationwide. We urge you to include full funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) in the upcoming government appropriations bill to ensure that households can access the broadband they desperately need.

In the Twenty-first Century, broadband connectivity is essential to maximizing educational opportunities, stimulating economic growth, lowering health care costs, investing in a skilled workforce, and connecting individuals with their loved ones. We saw during the pandemic how critical broadband access is to everything, from getting an education to health care to telemedicine to working from home. Unfortunately, one in five American households lack access to broadband. Nearly 40 percent of eligible Americans rely on ACP to maintain internet access and that number is rapidly growing. Current funding is expected to be depleted by 2024 creating an urgent need to extend funding.

ACP provides financial assistance that enables families to access broadband so that no one in our society is left behind. It helps families, Pell Grant recipients, and veterans afford high-speed broadband services — from monthly internet bills to installation fees and computer expenses, which often create significant financial burdens. Specifically, ACP provides eligible households with up to $30 per month towards their internet bills, and a one-time subsidy of $100 towards desktops, laptops, or tablet computers for children and hardworking families.

We cannot afford to let millions of Americans lose access to broadband. If funding for ACP is not extended, it would not only put the program’s success at risk, but also impede the progress of other federal broadband investments and initiatives. Families and businesses across the country need broadband access, and ACP has become a vital tool in securing this access. It plays a critical role in connecting households, while also promoting digital literacy, device distribution, technical support, and online services training, resulting in its high enrollment and strong bipartisan support.

However, connecting every American to high-speed, affordable broadband requires a public-private partnership, and it is the federal government’s responsibility to provide secure and reliable investments. With millions of families still lacking access to a service that has become essential for education, health care, and the economy, time is of the essence.

We have a unique window of opportunity to ensure that every family and child — rural, urban, and suburban — have access to affordable broadband, and can thrive in the digital age. ACP has become a lifeline for Americans, and we cannot afford to let it expire. We strongly urge you to prioritize the extension of funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program in the upcoming government appropriations bill. Failure to extend funding would not only leave millions of families without access to the internet but also hinder our long-term competitiveness as a nation.

BACKGROUND

After strongly advocating for the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and highlighting the benefits of the legislation for Virginia, Spanberger voted to pass the legislation with a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House in November 2021. The law — also known as the bipartisan infrastructure law — expanded Affordable Connectivity Program eligibility to more than 1.9 million Virginians.

Click here to learn more about who is eligible for the ACP.

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