Press Release

Passing the Bipartisan Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act is Essential for America’s Tribal Communities

Apr 12, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C.  Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY-09) are urging their colleagues to pass the bipartisan Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act now so Tribal communities that rely on high-speed internet to stay connected can keep their access to high-speed affordable internet. The bipartisan Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act would provide $7 billion for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides affordable high-speed internet options to qualifying households across the U.S., including discounts of up to $75 per month for households on Tribal lands. 

Over 23 million Americans use the ACP, and nearly 330,000 ACP subscribers live on Tribal lands. Letting the ACP run out of funding would have devastating effects on people who use this program: 77% of households who rely on the ACP say losing their ACP benefit would disrupt their service by making them change their plan or drop internet service entirely

“Access to high-speed internet is vital to the health, welfare, and economic development of communities across the country. Tribal communities already face significant discrepancies in broadband access. The Affordable Connectivity Program went a long way in closing that gap for people living on Tribal lands, but without it many families could lose access and get cut off the internet entirely. Congress needs to pass the bipartisan Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act and help Tribal communities from getting disconnected,” said Senator Welch

“Across the country, in cities and rural areas alike, the Affordable Connectivity Program has been essential. This program has bridged the digital divide, a gap that has kept many Native Americans from having reliable internet access, which is crucial nowadays. Congress must pass the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act to ensure tribal communities can stay connected to high-speed internet in our increasingly digital world,” said Rep. Clarke

“The National Congress of American Indians is pleased to support the ‘Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act of 2024.’ Tribal communities and Native Americans and Alaska Natives residing on Tribal lands remain the most underserved population when it comes to broadband access and infrastructure.  The broadband subsidies for residents on Tribal lands will help bridge the gap that exists for our members to have access to educational tools, telehealth, and economic opportunities.  We applaud the bipartisan effort by Senators Welch and Vance in introducing this legislation that will ensure access to this program through the remainder of 2024,” said NCAI President Mark Macarro

The Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act is cosponsored in the Senate by U.S. Senators Peter Welch (D-Vt.), JD Vance (R-Ohio), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.).  

U.S. Representatives Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY-09) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01) are leading the legislation in the House. 

The Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act is supported by over 400 organizations, including: Alliance for Navajo Broadband, the National Congress of American Indians, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, AARP, the American Civil Liberties Union, AT&T, Charter, Comcast, Communications Workers of America, Cox Communications, CTIA – The Wireless Association, INCOMPAS, NAACP, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association, T-Mobile, USTelecom, Verizon, Wireless Infrastructure Association, and WTA – Advocates for Rural Broadband. 

Read more about the bill here and see state-by-state data on the ACP here