Senator Wicker Introduces Legislation to Reform the Affordable Connectivity Program

The funding stream for the program will run out soon, and 1 in 5 Mississippi households could be affected.

May 8, 2024

WASHINGTONU.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., joined colleagues in introducing legislation that would reform the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). This effort would also fund the program through the end of the year, giving lawmakers more time to find a permanent solution.

Congress established the ACP in 2021 to help families stay afloat during the pandemic, but it has become too expensive to continue as-is indefinitely. Now that the health emergency has ended, Senator Wicker has been fighting to extend the program on the condition that it be reformed to be cost-effective in the long term.

“The ACP’s current trajectory and cost is unsustainable. We have warned the Biden administration this day would come. That is why I have been fighting to reform the program before it is extended. This tailored legislation will help connect the Mississippians that need broadband access the most to the American dream,” Senator Wicker said.

More information on the included reforms can be found below:

The amendment would refine the eligibility criteria for the ACP by lowering the income threshold to 135 percent of the federal poverty line, down from the current 200 percent. Households benefiting from free school meals through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision would no longer qualify for this assistance. Additionally, participants must undergo verification through the Federal Communications Commission’s eligibility database, including the National Verifier and National Lifeline Accountability Database.

The proposed legislation would also:

  • Eliminate the one-time $100 device discount under the ACP and direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to implement strong anti-fraud and performance measures.
  • Allocate an extra $3 billion to fortify the rip and replace program to ensure the American networks are protected from vulnerable equipment.  
  • Require the FCC to auction off the AWS-3 bands and any other spectrum bands returned to the agency within a two-year timeframe, regardless of potential reinstatement of auction authority during that period.

Senator Wicker introduced the legislation with U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), JD Vance (R-Ohio), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.).



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