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Eshoo, Clarke Urge FCC Chairman to Protect Lifeline Program

March 21st, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY) sent a letter signed by over 60 House members to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai, urging him to protect the Lifeline program which provides access to phone and broadband services to over 13 million low-income Americans, the majority of whom earn less than $10,000 a year.

The FCC recently voted 3 to 2 on party lines to proceed with a new proposal that will make it more difficult for eligible households to attain Lifeline’s services and remove nearly 8 million current participants out of the program. The FCC’s plan includes establishing caps on the Lifeline program, mandating co-pays from participants, and invalidating 4 out of 5 of the current providers of Lifeline services. The letter urges the Chairman to abandon this proposal and instead, move forward with reforms like the National Verifier, which ensures oversight of Lifeline.

“The Lifeline Program is essential for millions of Americans who use their devices to find jobs, schedule doctor’s appointments, complete their school assignments, call 9-1-1 during an emergency or to communicate with their loved ones,” the Members wrote. “Policymakers at all levels of government are united in their desire to close the digital divide, but the FCC should be strengthening Lifeline which has brought connectivity to millions of Americans.”

Since the program was created in 1985 under President Ronald Reagan, Lifeline has provided a discount on phone services for low-income consumers to ensure that all Americans have the opportunities and security that phone services bring, including being able to connect to jobs, family and emergency services.

The full text of the letter can be found here.

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