Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, joined Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, and 25 of their colleagues April 14 calling on Congressional leadership to commit at least $1 billion in funding for the Lifeline program in future coronavirus relief to meet the new connectivity needs of Americans.
Since 1985, the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline program has made basic internet and telephone service more affordable for low-income Americans.
“The coronavirus and resulting public safety measures taken by states, municipalities, and vigilant citizens are a resounding demonstration of the importance of Lifeline and other FCC universal service programs,” the senators wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California. “Already, Lifeline provides millions of Americans with essential connections by providing free or discounted broadband and voice services. This meaningful assistance is needed now more than ever. Social distancing, school closures, layoffs and shelter-in-place rules have spurred a dramatic new reliance on telework, distance education, online employment and telehealth. No one should have to put their health at risk, lose employment, lose access to education or face isolation because they cannot afford broadband.”
With tens of millions of Americans now working from home, going to school virtually, and using telehealth services, the senators emphasized this funding is critically needed to improve the program’s level of service, expand choice of eligible broadband providers and meet the surge of demand. The funding would also allow Lifeline to better advertise and process applications, so that Americans know this program is available to help them stay connected.
Earlier in April, Carper, Coons, Blumenthal and 32 Senate colleagues sent a letter to House and Senate leadership requesting $2 billion in E-Rate funding, so all K-12 students have adequate home internet connectivity if their schools close due to the pandemic; visit bit.ly/34ISUHi for more.
The full text of the letter is available at bit.ly/2yaKPih.