(The Center Square) – Along with over 60% of their Democratic colleagues in the U.S. Senate, New Mexico Democrats Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján signed a letter urging Congressional leaders to extend funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program.
It offers financial assistance for high-speed internet to over 171,000 households and over 21 million people nationwide. The program was introduced via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
If the program is not extended, the lawmakers contend that New Mexican residents could see internet bill increases between $30 and $75 per month, according to a press release from Heinrich’s office.
“We write to urge you to extend funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides over 21 million working families with financial assistance for broadband access, to help bridge the digital divide so they can continue to afford the broadband services they need for work, school, health care, and more,” the senators wrote in the letter. “Should ACP funding not be extended, millions of Americans could be at risk of losing access to broadband.”
“Failing to extend funding would be irresponsible,” they continued. “We urge you to extend funding for the ACP in a government appropriations package and include a long-term solution that ensures efficient spending of taxpayer dollars.”
The Government Accountability Office released a report in January warning that the ACP program has significant potential for fraud.
The report found that the FCC has too few antifraud measures in place for the program and that people may not unenroll from it when they are no longer eligible.
The GAO also found:
2,500 potential duplicate subscribers in the ACP enrollment dataover 200 subscribers whose dates of birth were over 110 years old and 109 subscribers whose dates of birth were over 120 years old.20 subscribers whose dates of birth were under 10 years old and 12 subscribers whose dates of birth were under 5 years old.Over 874,000 of the 8.5 million ACP subscribers who included the last four digits of their Social Security number did not match Social Security recordsover 4,200 primary addresses are PO Boxes and over 6,600 primary addresses as commercial mailboxesover 275 households where the Internet provider’s retail locations served either a primary or mailing addresssubscribers with unique ZIP codes related to prisons, commercial sites like banks, and Business Reply Mail services.