Press Release

Welch Urges Congress to Protect Affordable High-Speed Internet, Pushes for Bipartisan Action on ACP During Commerce Hearing 

May 2, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband hearing today, U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) stressed that millions of households—including working families, seniors, and veterans—could lose access to high-speed internet if Congress fails to extend the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Senator Welch urged Congress to work together to pass his bipartisan legislation to fully fund the program so that communities across the country can get and stay connected. 

“We have got an urgent, immediate situation that has to be addressed: that’s the expiration of the ACP…. Every witness here has acknowledged that the debate about whether everybody needs the internet is over. It is over. And this Congress, on a bipartisan basis, really put enormous money into building it out. That doesn’t do any good for folks if they can’t get connected to it,” said Senator Welch. “We’ve got to have it. We’ve got to have it, and we all know that. A red state or blue state, it just doesn’t matter—the citizens we represent need it. There are a lot of folks on the margin. And if the ACP goes out now, a lot of those folks are going to have to make very tough decisions…What we can’t do is let this expire.” 

Watch the Senator’s full remarks here

Nearly 26,000 Vermont households—including working families, veterans, and seniors—are enrolled in the ACP. Since its implementation, over 23.2 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. In May, Affordable Connectivity Program subscribers will see their benefits reduced to $14, and benefits will end after next month without action by Congress.  

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-N.Y.-09) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.-01) are leading the legislation in the House. 

In April, Senator Welch delivered remarks on the Senate floor calling on his Republican colleagues to join Democrats in supporting the extension of the ACP. Sen. Welch also spoke on the Senate floor in January to emphasize the success of ACP in Vermont and urgent need to pass the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act. 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