Joe Biden

President Biden calls on GOP to extend funding for affordable internet program

The Affordable Connectivity Program serves more than 763,000 Pennsylvanians

President Joe Biden speaks during an event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on Monday, June 26, 2023.

President Joe Biden speaks during an event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on Monday, June 26, 2023. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Biden administration called on Republicans in both the U.S. House and Senate Tuesday to extend funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program, a broadband internet rebate program used by more than 23 million households.

“Internet is necessary for Americans to participate in school, do their jobs, access health care and stay connected to loved ones, yet millions of Americans can’t afford the cost of monthly internet connection – if they have access to connection at all,” Stephen Benjamin, a Biden senior adviser, said during a press call Monday. “These disparities disproportionately impact communities of color, veterans and military families, rural communities and older Americans.”

The ACP, run through the Federal Communications Commission, was signed into law in November 2021. The $14.2 billion program, funded through this month, provides savings to more than 763,000 – or roughly 1 in 7 – Pennsylvania households. 

The commonwealth has received more than $431 million through the program – a monthly savings of roughly $22.2 million, according to the Biden administration. 

Members of Congress introduced bipartisan legislation in the House and Senate in January that would add a $7 billion extension to the program. However, both versions of the bill have yet to be considered by their respective chambers despite calls from the Biden administration to pass funding before the program is set to wind down. 

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Republican representing the 1st congressional district, was among the original co-sponsors of the legislation. He told City & State: “Congress must engage to help bridge the digital divide among Americans.” 

“As co-lead of the Affordable Connectivity Act, ensuring this critical program does not experience a lapse in funding is a top priority,” Fitzpatrick said in an email. “I encourage more of my GOP colleagues to join this effort.”

Senior advisers to Biden said the president requested a $6 billion extension from Congress in October, with many Democratic lawmakers supporting the calls. 

“There are so many constituents in both Democratic and Republican districts who are currently benefiting from the program. Twenty-three million households are enrolled. That’s one in every six households; nearly half of those are military families (and) about a quarter of them are seniors,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters Monday. “We are moving forward and alerting the 23 million people who are part of this program that without congressional action this spring (it) will be ending (and we must) do all we can to share the success of the program and how much it is impacting different vulnerable populations.”