Dear Majority Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker Johnson and Democratic Leader Jeffries,
As Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus, we write urging you to include $6 billion needed to replenish the highly popular and effective Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) in any government funding package, as requested by President Biden’s Fiscal Year 2024 emergency supplemental funding proposal.
Established in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the ACP is a true bipartisan public policy success story. It provides eligible households with $30 a month towards high-speed broadband service ($75 a month on tribal lands) as well as a one-time $100 credit towards purchase of a computer or tablet device. So far, over 21 million households participate in this program across rural, urban and suburban communities. The program has enabled an enormous step forward towards closing the digital divide and ensuring that all Americans can access affordable high-speed internet service for work, school, healthcare, government services, and more. It is also vital to the success of the Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program designed to build out broadband to unserved and underserved communities.
At current enrollment rates, ACP is expected to run out of funds as soon as Spring of 2024, cutting off this critical support for millions of students, rural families, low-income households, elderly citizens, and other users. Given today’s economy with so many jobs, services, resources, and cultural opportunities only available online, that should be unthinkable.
The impact of ACP exhaustion would be especially severe in communities of color where internet access and adoption still lag. 1 Access to affordable and reliable internet is essential for full participation in today’s 21st century economy. Therefore, lack of affordable high-speed internet will put these communities further behind.
¹Pew Research Center, Home broadband adoption, computer ownership vary by race, ethnicity in the U.S., July 16, 2021 (“Black and Hispanic Americans remain less likely than White adults to say they own a traditional computer or have high-speed internet at home.”).
But the harm would be felt in every neighborhood across the nation. Indeed, according to Common Sense Media, enrollment in the program is split almost evenly between Republican and Democratic Congressional Districts, and the program’s popularity and support is near universal:
[T]he program is overwhelmingly popular, and uptake is exceeding even the highest expectations. Our analysis shows it's popular in cities, suburbs, and rural areas. It's popular with Democrats, Republicans, and independents. In short, the ACP is helping people everywhere, no matter where they live or how they vote.2
Before he passed, Congressman and American hero John Lewis said “Access to the internet . . . is the civil rights issue of the 21st Century.”3 And through the Affordable Connectivity Program you and your peers have made historic progress tackling this urgent issue. We urge you now to build on that legacy and continue closing the digital divide and helping millions of American families access affordable high-speed internet by providing the $6 billion in ACP funding that President Biden has requested in any new government funding package.