Fetterman introduces bill to protect affordable internet access for 23 million households

John Fetterman attending PA Farm Show

US Sen. John Fetterman attending the PA Farm Show in Harrisburg on Jan. 6, 2024. (Photo: Sean Kitchen)

By Sean Kitchen

May 2, 2024

The Affordable Connectivity Program expired on Tuesday due to Republican opposition, putting affordable high-speed internet access at risk for 23 million households.

Over 736,000 Pennsylvania households, and 23 million across the country, are about to lose assistance for their monthly internet bills due to the expiration of the Affordable Connectivity Program.

The program, which was created under President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, lowered monthly internet bills for many Pennsylvania residents by $30 to $70, but it expired on Tuesday because of Republican opposition to renewing the program.

US Sen. John Fetterman (D-Penn.) introduced the Promoting Affordable Connectivity Act on Wednesday, which would make the ACP permanent.

​​”Broadband internet is no longer a luxury—it’s a necessity, but many families simply cannot afford it,” Fetterman said in a statement. “The ACP has been incredibly successful in ensuring that families across Pennsylvania and the country have internet access. It’s simple: when a program works, keep it.”

Congressman Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia) compared the ACP’s expiration to a tax on his constituents during a press conference last month.

“If Republicans allow this program to expire, that would be like imposing a $55 million tax increase on my constituents.” Evans said. “That’s why a monthly discount of $30 or $75 makes a real difference for the many families in my district.”

Evans’ district has the highest number of households in Pennsylvania, with over 95,000 households that rely on the ACP.

Fetterman’s legislation would fund the ACP by removing it from the annual appropriations process and placing it in the Universal Service Fund (USF), and having USF contributions pay for the ACP without raising costs on consumers.

Fetterman has been sounding the alarm on the ACP’s expiration and what it will mean for Pennsylvania residents.

“Broadband internet access has become as fundamental as electricity and water,” Fetterman wrote in an editorial in November. “Millions of American workers need broadband access to log onto their jobs every day.”

“But too many Pennsylvanians don’t have reliable access. This problem is especially stark in rural areas and in underserved communities. And when people don’t have access to reliable broadband, they get left behind.”

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

CATEGORIES: NATIONAL POLITICS

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