Press Release

Passing the Bipartisan ‘Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act’ is Essential for America’s Working Families and Students

Apr 11, 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 millions of working families and students that rely on high-speed internet can stay connected to their work and school. 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. 

Over 23 million Americans utilize the ACP, and over 3 million ACP subscribers are families with students on free or reduced lunch programs. Over 1.3 million college-aged people are enrolled in the program, and enrollees aged 18-49 represent more than half of all ACP subscribers. 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

“In an increasingly online world, people’s ability to reach their full potential at work or in school often depends on their ability to access high-speed internet. The Affordable Connectivity Program has been crucial in leveling the playing field for working families and students to access high-speed internet. But that progress—and everyday folks’ ability to do their jobs and pursue an education—will be lost if the program expires. That’s why Congress must act now to pass the bipartisan Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act to ensure that everyone can stay connected to their work and school,” said Senator Welch

“In today’s world, reliable internet isn’t a luxury for students – it’s a necessity. From finding resources to doing homework, broadband is the key to equal opportunity in education.  The Affordable Connectivity Program has been a lifeline for working families, ensuring kids aren’t left behind. Parents shouldn’t have to choose between their child’s education and basic needs. Congress must act now to extend the ACP and stand up for our students and their families,” said Rep. Clarke

“The internet is no longer optional – it’s essential. Without broadband, our local communities cannot access opportunities in education, and employment, nor speak out online and exercise their First Amendment rights. Households who struggle to afford broadband shouldn’t have to sacrifice other necessities to stay connected. The Affordable Connectivity Program has proved to be so necessary that it is facing a funding cliff. But, the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act could stop families from falling off. We are grateful to the bill sponsors for looking out for families in need,” said Jenna Leventoff, Senior Policy Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

“Our nation cannot afford the risk of losing the success that the Affordable Connectivity Program has provided for families to compete in the digital economy, access employment, online education, remote work, entrepreneurship opportunities, telehealth services, and participate in civil engagement. The Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act of 2024 would continue the success of the Affordable Connectivity Program to narrow the digital gap in millions of households across the nation. This Act would continue to help families and children to stay connected and continue to experience the transformative power of high-speed home broadband service in their lives,” said Melanie Campbell, President and CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation

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: AARP, American Civil Liberties Union, American Council on Education, American Library Association, AT&T, Charter, Comcast, Communications Workers of America, Cox Communications, CTIA, Council for Opportunity in Education, Institute for Educational Leadership, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation  – 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