Janet Yellen Calls on Congress to Renew ACP During Virginia Trip

'ACP is now at risk,' said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and 'we know how crucial the internet is.'

Janet Yellen Calls on Congress to Renew ACP During Virginia Trip
Photo provided by Comcast show Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, alongside Broderick Johnson, Executive Vice President for Public Policy at Comcast, at roundtable discussion in Strafford County, Virginia

FREDERICKSBURG, May 13, 2024 - Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, traveled to near Stafford County, Virginia to spotlight President Biden’s broadband infrastructure efforts and encourage an extension of the American Connectivity Program.

“[ACP] funding is running out this month. We know families are struggling with the high costs of key household expenses.” Yellen said at a Monday event, showcasing broadband infrastructure funded by the American Rescue Plan.

ACP, which subsidizes the cost of internet access for low-income households to $30, is set to run out of funding by the end of May. Nationwide, 23 million households participated in the program, including 470,000 in Virginia.

To Yellen, the program's benefit for the American people is clear: “that means significant savings, freeing up funds for families to put toward other needs.” 

Although the primary purpose of the tour was to showcase infrastructure, Yellen took the opportunity to express her concern over upcoming congressional proceedings, notably the question over ACP renewal. Yellen urged Congress to continue to support the program.

Many Democratic and some Republican policy makers have called for a continuation of ACP as its funds grind to a halt. Other Republican representatives have pushed back against a renewal, calling he policy wasteful. The Senate Commerce Committee will vote over a bill providing short term funding on Thursday.

Yellen reiterated the Joe Biden Administration's goal to connect all Americans by 2030 and called the uneven distribution of high-speed internet access across the country “unacceptable.” Yellen envisions potentially large economic gains by further expanding access to rural areas.

“Investing in high-speed internet can increase economic opportunity in places where potential exists but opportunity often hasn’t,” Yellen said.

ACP, according to Yellen, is a key component to the Biden administration’s plan.

“We’ve designed our investments to address this, pulling all the policy levers we have to reduce costs.” Yellen said. The future of the ACP will also affect projects funded by grants from the Capital Projects Fund. Projects funded through the CPF have been required to offer ACP benefits to users.

Virginia in particular used all of their $200 million allocated from CPF to build broadband infrastructure. 

Yellen also took time to address a potential Senate resolution that would overturn the Treasury’s guidance over State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. According to Yellen, such an overturn could potentially jeopardize funding for over 8,000 infrastructure projects, including over a hundred in Virginia.

Virginia has also received $600 million for broadband investment from SLRF.

Broderick Johnson, executive vice president for public policy at Comcast, joined the secretary at the roundtable and shared some of the company's infrastructure investments in both Virginia and the nation as a whole.

“I’ve seen first-hand the transformative power our partnerships can have on communities, the many lives being changed,” Johnson said, “and today we’re here to demonstrate again what we can accomplish working together across government and industry.”

Yellen emphasized the need for collaboration between the federal government and the private sector to ensure expanded connectivity.

“I see our efforts to close the digital divide as a prime example of how all levels of government, along with private companies and non-profits, can effectively work together,” Yellen said.

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