NHMC Supports Introduction of the Broadband Adoption Act

NHMC Supports Introduction of the Broadband Adoption Act

Commends Representative Matsui, Senator Murphy, Senator Booker, and others

 
WASHINGTON –– Today, a pair of bills were introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, which instruct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to modernize Lifeline to fully support broadband services and take additional steps to ensure the health of the program. The legislation aligns closely with proposals circulated by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler last week and the bills’ authors applauded the FCC’s initiative and recognized the agency’s existing authority to modernize Lifeline.
Currently, Lifeline defrays the high cost of telephone service and, in some instances, bundled voice telephone and broadband service, for poor families. Lifeline has evolved since its inception during President Ronald Reagan’s Administration. It was updated to include access to wireless phone services during President George W. Bush’s Administration in 2005, and it was also significantly reformed to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in 2012.
For nearly a decade, NHMC has advocated for Lifeline to further evolve to include access to meaningful broadband services to help close the digital divide. Currently, 30% of Americans lack home broadband. Those without home broadband are disproportionately poor, Latino, African American, Native Americans, rural, and/or seniors. Cost is the main barrier to adoption for people under sixty five years of age. At the same time, broadband is critical to nearly every facet of modern American life, including education, jobs, healthcare, civic participation, and more.
The following statement can be attributed to Jessica J. Gonzalez, NHMC’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel:

“I applaud our champions in Congress – Representative Matsui, Senator Murphy, Senator Booker, and all of their co-sponsors – who understand the tremendous, untapped potential of Lifeline. Lifeline could offer a bridge across the digital divide and represents a crucial investment in the people of this country. This legislation and current FCC efforts to modernize Lifeline are about the core American values of creating access to opportunity and a pathway out of poverty for millions of Americans.”

The bills, referred to as the Broadband Adoption Act of 2015, were introduced by Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) in the House and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) in the Senate. The bills were supported by an impressive list of co-sponsors including: Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Congressman Michael Doyle (D-PA), Congressman Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT), Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

More than 70 national and regional civil rights organizations, policymakers, media rights advocates and other community groups have recently gone on the record in support of modernizing the Lifeline.

Gonzalez will testify in support of Lifeline modernization before the U.S. Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet on Tuesday, June 2 at 9:30 a.m. A live stream of the hearing will be available at this link. You can follow the conversation on Twitter by following @NHMC, @JGonzalezNHMC, and @michaelscurato. To access the written testimony, click here.