Tags: federal communications commission | fec | lifeline

House GOP to Cap Internet Subsidy Budget

Image: House GOP to Cap Internet Subsidy Budget
FEC Chairman Tom Wheeler testifies before a House committee hearing on net neutrality, on Capitol Hill in Washington. A program to get low-income Americans federal government help paying for Internet access is targeted to start in December 2016. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)

By    |   Friday, 01 Apr 2016 02:28 PM

Just after the Federal Communications Commission voted to overhaul and expand Lifeline, a program created to offer phone and Internet subsidies to low-income Americans, House Republicans announced they would create a bill that would set a budget cap on the program.

The final vote by the FCC was 3-2, along party lines, approving a plan advanced by the panel's Democrats.

The Hill reports that the programs current spending is a little more than $1.5 billion and is expected to grow as it attracts more subscribers.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the FCC's plan was to boost the annual budget to $2.25 billion from the current level. 

However, Republicans fear that with the amount of subscribers the program is likely to attract, the current FCC proposed budget could easily be exceeded if there is not an imposed cap.

The GOP bill sponsored by Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), would cap the program at $1.5 billion and is expected to receive a lot of blow back from Democrats, the Hill reports.

Already, group of nine House Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee sent the FCC a late letter to "express concern" about a cap.

"Demand is expected to increase as the program transitions to include broadband service, and any cap would threaten the goals and purpose of Lifeline," they warned Thursday, according to the Hill.

"We strongly support the commission's effort to modernize and expand Lifeline, but by establishing an artificial cap on funding from the outset, many low-income consumers could find themselves without any mechanism to bridge the digital divide," the letter said.

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Just after the Federal Communications Commission voted to overhaul and expand Lifeline, a program created to offer phone and Internet subsidies to low-income Americans, House Republicans announced they would create a bill that would set a budget cap on the program.
federal communications commission, fec, lifeline
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2016-28-01
Friday, 01 Apr 2016 02:28 PM
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