Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is calling on Congress to extend funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a federal program that provides financial assistance to low-income households to help them afford high-speed internet. 21 million families nationwide – including over 1.5 million New York households – rely on the program, but it is set to run out of funding in just a few months. Without additional funding, these 21 million families will be at risk of losing access to broadband services. Kirsten is calling on congressional leadership to appropriate additional funds for the program to make sure New Yorkers can stay connected.
“Fast, reliable internet is no longer a luxury – it is a necessity for everyday life,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I helped establish the Affordable Connectivity Program as part of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to make sure families across our state can work remotely, complete online coursework, access telehealth appointments, and more. With funding for this critical program set to run out soon, I’m calling on congressional leadership to allocate more money for the ACP and help close the digital divide once and for all.”
Established in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the ACP lowers the out-of-pocket cost of broadband service and devices for working families. The program provides a monthly discount of up to $30.00 per month off the cost of Internet service and equipment as well as a one-time discount of up to $100 off a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. In qualifying rural communities and qualifying Tribal lands, the monthly discount may be up to $75.00 per month. More information about the Affordable Connectivity Program is available here. Eligible individuals can apply here.
Gillibrand’s letter to congressional leadership was also signed by Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), John Fetterman (D-PA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Mark Warner (D-VA), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
The full text of the letter is available here or below.
Dear Leader Schumer, Speaker Pro Tempore McHenry, Leader McConnell, and Leader Jeffries:
We write to urge you to extend funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP); which provides over 21 million working families with financial assistance for broadband access; to help bridge the digital divide so they can continue to afford the broadband services they need for work, school, health care, and more.
The ACP has been crucial to increasing broadband connectivity for millions of Americans, allowing them to maximize educational opportunities, stimulate economic growth, lower health care costs, and increase telehealth opportunities, while also ensuring that Americans can access the tools necessary to succeed in our growing and diversifying economy. As you finalize a government appropriations package, we urge you to include full funding for the ACP as well as a long-term solution that provides a sustainable, responsible funding stream, so that millions of Americans don’t lose access to critical connectivity services.
Established in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the ACP lowers the out-of-pocket cost of broadband service and devices for working families. The program provides a monthly discount of up to $30.00 per month off the cost of Internet service and equipment as well as a one-time discount of up to $100 off a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. In qualifying rural communities and qualifying Tribal lands, the monthly discount may be up to $75.00 per month. This means that hardworking families across the country, small business owners, veterans, and seniors are all able to receive financial assistance to afford high-speed internet.
We know how important having reliable broadband is to the over 21 million households participating in the ACP, representing approximately 41 percent of eligible households enrolled nationwide. More are signing up every day because they need assistance to afford broadband where they live, work, and learn. At the current rate of usage, if Congress does not appropriate additional funds to the ACP, the program’s funds will be exhausted in just a few short months, several years earlier than the target date in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Should ACP funding not be extended, millions of Americans could be at risk of losing access to broadband. We would take significant steps backward in the progress we’ve already made to connect more Americans to the internet through additional federal broadband investments. In just the last 6 months, we’ve invested billions of dollars to build out critical infrastructure, making sure the most rural areas of our country have access to broadband services. The ACP ensures families can now afford those services. We cannot let them face a connectivity cliff by letting this program run out of money with no future assistance.
Failing to extend funding would be irresponsible. Without an extension, nearly 21 million families already enrolled in the ACP will lose access to affordable broadband services that are critical to their everyday lives; and, should this funding lapse, hardworking families previously enrolled in the ACP would have to go through the process of reenrolling, creating unnecessary obstacles for obtaining affordable, reliable broadband.
Thanks to the ACP, access to broadband services is becoming a reality for families and providing new opportunities for success. If this is the digital future, we cannot shut people out. We must extend funding for this vital program to ensure that the families already signed up, and the millions of other families that are still eligible to sign up, are not forced off a program that has given them a lifeline to access high-speed internet, including essential access to work, school, and health care services. We urge you to extend funding for the ACP in a government appropriations package and include a long-term solution that ensures efficient spending of taxpayer dollars. We appreciate your consideration of this request.