Press Release

Welch Takes to Senate Floor to Urge Republican Colleagues to Support ACP Extension Act and Keep Constituents Connected 

Apr 18, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C.Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) today delivered remarks on the Senate Floor calling on his Republican colleagues to join Democrats in supporting the extension of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which has helped millions of households across the country get and stay connected to affordable high-speed internet. The Senator also emphasized the importance of passing his bipartisan, bicameral Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Extension Act for America’s most vulnerable and in-need – including seniors, veterans, working families and students, Tribal communities, and patients who rely on the ACP for health care services. The ACP, which was established as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and is administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is projected to run out of funding imminently without action by Congress. 

The Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act would provide $7 billion for the ACP. Since its implementation, 23.2 million households—including nearly 26,000 households in Vermont—have utilized the program’s discount of up to $30 monthly for internet service, and up to $75 monthly for those living 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

“One of the rays of hope we have in this Congress is the bipartisan accomplishment of the past several years to build out broadband—high-speed internet across the country, from Vermont to Alaska and everywhere in between…The Affordable Connectivity Program, a bipartisan program, is used by 23 million households. And it is the difference between them being able to connect and get the benefit of high-speed internet or not,” said Senator Welch

“It makes such a difference, because that internet is used by all of us. It might be to do your job. It might be to apply for a job. It might be for kids to do homework. It might be to get an appointment with a doctor through telehealth—something that is really important in rural America. That’s the good news. The dangerous news is that the Affordable Connectivity Program—that is that lifeline for our veterans, for our seniors, for our low-income folks—is going to expire in a matter of weeks. And we have the opportunity, and I believe the responsibility, to extend the Affordable Connectivity Program so that people will be able to maintain access,” he continued

“We need all of us, Democrats and Republicans, now to come together to pass our bipartisan Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act and keep America connected,” Senator Welch concluded

Watch the Senator’s full remarks here

As outlined in his remarks from the Senate Floor, the ACP has helped households in blue and red states alike and has broad bipartisan support. The Digital Progress Institute found 62% of Republican voters supported continuing the ACP, the same poll found 80% of rural voters supported the ACP. The ACP is also heavily utilized in states represented by Republican senators:1 in 6 households in Texas and Indiana; more than 1 in 5 households in North Carolina; 1 in 5 households in Mississippi; more than 1 in 4 households in Kentucky; and 1 in 3 households in Louisiana utilizing the program.  

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. 

In January, Sen. Welch spoke 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. Earlier this year, Senator Welch convened Vermont’s broadband leaders at a roundtable in Burlington to discuss the critical importance of the ACP and the urgent need to pass the ACP Extension Act

The Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act is supported by over 400 organizations, including: AARP, 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