Trone, Dem coalition asks for a re-up of the Affordable Connectivity Program after current funding ends

01 November 2023- Congressman David Trone (D-MD) joined 72 of his fellow New Democrat Coalition (NDC) colleagues in sending a letter to Congressional leadership urging both chambers to include funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) consistent with the President’s emergency supplemental appropriations request in any upcoming government funding package. 

Enacted as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the ACP currently provides broadband subsidies to more than 21 million households across the country and over 200,000 households in Maryland. With funding for this program set to run out as soon as early 2024, it is crucial that Congress works to keep broadband affordable for millions of families who benefit from this program.

Today, about 23% of Maryland households don’t have high-speed, reliable broadband internet access at home, according to the Abell Foundation.

“In this day and age, it’s vital for everyone to have access to high-speed internet,” said Rep. Trone, Member of the House Appropriations Committee. “But far too many folks in both rural and urban areas struggle to access this essential resource because of its high cost. This inequity effectively cuts access to telehealth services, online education, and remote jobs – opportunities many of us take for granted. We need to secure continued funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program so we can set folks up for success in every corner of Maryland. In Congress, I’m fighting to do just that.”

You can read the full letter here and below:  

Dear Majority Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker Johnson and Minority Leader Jefferies, 

As members of the New Democrat Coalition, we write to advocate for the inclusion of $6 billion in additional funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) in any government funding package, to reflect the President’s Fiscal Year 2024 emergency supplemental funding request. The ACP provides critical financial assistance to help American households afford broadband internet services. Access to high-speed and affordable broadband is vital to participating in our 21st-century economy. Communities without sufficient internet connectivity struggle to keep pace in a rapidly changing world increasingly dependent on technology. The New Democrat Coalition is committed to closing this digital divide and the ACP is a necessary tool to accomplish this goal.

Established in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the ACP currently provides broadband subsidies to more than 21 million households throughout the country. The program has had great success as millions of families who previously could not get online or struggled to pay for broadband access are now connected to the internet. By helping to secure broadband access, the ACP has allowed millions of Americans to maximize educational opportunities, increase telehealth opportunities, stimulate economic growth, and connect with loved ones. 

At the current rate of enrollment, the ACP’s funding will be exhausted as imminently as early next year. Failure to renew funding for the ACP would once again make low-cost broadband internet service unaffordable for millions of families, resulting in a significant loss of internet connectivity nationwide. This would be a significant step backwards in the progress Congress has made to connect more Americans to the internet through additional federal broadband investments. 

The loss of the ACP would also reduce the efficacy of Congress’ groundbreaking $42 billion investment in the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. A recent study found that the ACP reduces the subsidy amount needed to incentivize broadband deployment in rural areas by 25 percent per-household.1 The ACP is necessary to maximize BEAD program dollars intended to build out our nation’s broadband infrastructure and ensure that no community gets left behind.

Congress has recognized, on a bipartisan basis, that every American must be connected to the internet to prosper and compete in a 21st-century economy. We cannot risk millions of families losing access to the internet service they depend on every day by allowing the ACP to lapse. We stand with the Biden Administration in recognizing the ACP as a critical service for American families and a priority for our country. As you work to finalize a government funding package, we urge you to include robust funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program to sustain the program through December of 2024. This funding will keep Americans connected as Congress continues to work to develop a permanent funding pathway for this critical broadband program.