For Immediate Release:
October 30, 2023
Contact: Jonathon Dworkin (NewDEAL), 202-660-1340 x5, email@example.com
Broadband Task Force Leaders: Congress Must Fully Fund Affordability Subsidy
Co-chairs of the NewDEAL Forum’s Broadband Task Force highlight the positive impacts of the Affordable Connectivity Program, and request $7 billion in continued funding.
Washington, D.C. – Co-chairs of the NewDEAL Forum’s Broadband Task Force have asked Congressional leaders for an additional $7 billion of funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), an initiative created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that subsidizes high-speed internet for more than 20 million Americans, with more eligible to participate, and is projected to run out of funding in the coming months.
“Access to affordable high-speed internet is no longer a luxury; it is a necessity for millions of Americans to fully participate in today's digital economy,” co-chairs Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist (MI); Sen. Jay Chaudhuri (NC); and Commissioner Dana Barrett (Fulton County, GA), wrote in a letter addressed to the Democratic and Republican leaders of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.
From virtual schooling to remote work to telemedicine, the need for high-speed internet could not be clearer. And broadband access is about more than convenience – it is a smart investment. The co-chairs cite a 2021 study showing the ACP increases both employment rates and incomes.
As the letter notes, the ACP has resulted in “significant strides in connecting people to high-speed internet access in our home states,” adding that the Task Force has “heard similar stories from our colleagues in NewDEAL’s network of state and local policymakers.”
Yet experts expect funding for the ACP to run out in the middle of 2024. Congress should include ACP funding in the current efforts to fund the government beyond the current stopgap measure.
“I hope it is a no-brainer that every member of Congress would support a program like ACP, which has proven to be critical in rural communities, urban centers, and everywhere in between,” NewDEAL Forum CEO Debbie Cox Bultan said when the letter was released. “I’m grateful that elected officials like Lt. Gov. Gilchrist, Sen. Chaudhuri, and Commissioner Barrett are leading the charge on such an important issue for creating opportuning for more Americans.”
“ACP is a vital initiative that prevented millions of Americans from falling behind economically during the pandemic, and it is essential to the progress of other federal broadband investments and the ongoing pursuit of digital equity,” the co-chairs wrote. They further emphasize that the opportunity to effectively and efficiently administer the biggest broadband access initiatives under the Bipartisan Instructure Law “relies on continued access to a reliable low-cost option,” which must exist for states to access all of the funds allocated to them. Implementation will be “diminished by the expiration of what was the major affordability piece of the infrastructure law.”
This letter was the first action taken under the Task Force’s new leadership, which features two new co-chairs as Chaudhuri and Barrett join Gilchrist, who has helped lead the group since its launch in 2021 and is at the forefront of Michigan’s broadband access work. Chaudhuri has sponsored bipartisan legislation to push for broadband expansion while advocating for high-speed WiFi in schools, assistance for low-income families, and digital inclusion. Barrett, who began her career in the technology sector, has helped spearhead the Connect the Dots Digital Equity initiative, which will provide hardware, software, training, and free or low-cost internet services to families and children in lower socio-economic neighborhoods
Read the full letter from the Task Force here.
About NewDEAL Forum
The NewDEAL Forum is a Washington-DC based non-profit organization which identifies and promotes innovative, future-oriented state and local pro-growth progressive policies that can improve the lives of all Americans. By facilitating the identification and spread of policy ideas, the NewDEAL Forum seeks to foster economic growth, reduce barriers to opportunity, and promote good government in communities throughout the country.