WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Virginia Sen. Mark Warner wants the FCC to expand the program that helps low-income Americans access the internet.
“Broadband is an economic necessity,” Warner said. “If there’s one thing we need to do, we ought to be expanding both broadband’s reach and supportability.”
Instead of expanding, the Federal Communications Commission is actually proposing cutbacks. But Warner says taking away from the Lifeline Program for low-income customers will only lead to more difficulties, especially with school starting virtually in some areas during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Let’s just continue it now. If there needs to be reforms, let’s reform it after we have a vaccine, but let’s not cut off this access at this critical time,” Warner said.
The FCC says it’s spent months asking for more funding and blames democrats for failing to work with republicans on a solution.
In a statement, an FCC spokesperson said: “Senate Democrats have failed to do their job and are refusing to find common ground with the Administration and Senate Republicans … unless they get their demand for special-interest giveaways that have nothing to do with the pandemic.”
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, rejects that claim.
“He’s suggesting they’re trying to do a lot. Where’s the evidence? Where’s the evidence that Republicans tried to do anything to assist in this effort?” Kaine said.
Kaine says it’s time for the FCC to step up for Americans.
“To deal with their health issues, their economic concerns, interact with family, and we want the FCC to do more.”
Kaine and Warner say they will push for more broadband legislation in the next COVID-19 relief package.