Press Release

Welch Discusses the Importance of the Affordable Connectivity Program in Commerce Committee Hearing 

Mar 22, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a Senate Commerce Committee hearing this week, U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.), member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, discussed the importance of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides affordable high-speed internet options to households across the United States. Senator Welch highlighted how critical the ACP is to Vermont, and called on Congress to pass his bill, the bipartisan Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act to fully fund the program so families can stay connected. The ACP, administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is projected to run out of funding in the coming months without action by Congress.

“I’m going to take my opportunity to talk about something a little bit different because it’s so urgent, and that’s the Affordable Connectivity Program. It’s about to expire…It’s for lower-income folks around the country to be able to connect to the internet. This Congress with bipartisan support we’ve done an enormous amount, especially as a result of COVID, where there was a recognition that being on the internet and having access to that was really critical for the well-being of all of our families. Folks couldn’t go to school unless they had the internet, they couldn’t get a doctor’s appointment without the internet,” said Senator Welch

“We’ve built out the internet but it’s no good if you can’t afford to get on it…the Affordable Connectivity Program is thirty bucks a month of help to these families all around the country—millions—in Vermont it’s like 25,000 families,” Senator Welch continued. “And it’s expiring, and one of the big challenges we have—because there’s broad support for the program—it affects all of our communities, whether we’re in a red state or a blue state. And it’s evidenced by the bipartisan support we have for the effort to do it.” 

“But it really, really is urgent, and along the way as we’re reconsidering how to do it and keep it going, if there’s reforms that make it more efficient…let’s do them. Let’s make it better, let’s make it more efficient. But the bottom line is that we really have to continue the Affordable Connectivity Program. Otherwise, folks who are really dependent on that thirty bucks in order to maintain connectivity are going to fall off…This is a real setback for kids, especially in rural America, and families in rural America,” the Senator concluded

Watch the Senator’s full remarks here

Over 25,000 Vermont households are enrolled in the ACP, almost half of which are over age 50 or older. Since its implementation, over 22.5 million households have utilized the program’s monthly discount of up to $30 for internet service, and up to $75 monthly for those living on Tribal lands. 

Senator Welch, along with Sens. JD Vance (R-Ohio), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) introduced the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act, bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would provide $7 billion for the program, which is nearly out of funding and projected to be exhausted by April without congressional action. Following the bill’s introduction, Senator Welch joined Vermont’s broadband leaders in Burlington to discuss the critical importance of the ACP in Vermont and urgent need to pass the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act. 

In January, Senator Welch delivered remarks on the Senate Floor emphasizing the success of ACP in Vermont and called on Congress to fully fund the program so that communities across the country can get and stay connected.