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Millions of Americans may lose access to affordable internet program this month

A federal program making affordable internet possible for roughly 23 million Americans is in danger of running out of funds if Congress doesn't act.

Walter Prescher is a Methodist pastor in rural Texas who served three Army tours in Iraq. He’s also a father of 12 grown children, with nine still at home. And he’s one of 23 million Americans who could lose a critical government subsidy allowing them to have internet access when it expires at the end of May. 

“That just gave us $50 a month to pay for the kids to do sports or band or whatever they wanted to do, so it helped out the budget,” Prescher told Fox News Digital.

Millions of people in low-income households are at risk of losing a $30 to $75 per month subsidy as part of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) when funding runs out at the end of May. Now, a group of bipartisan lawmakers is trying to give the program a helping hand. 


Under the previous internet setup his family could afford, Prescher said it would take as long as three hours for one of his older children to complete 10% of her homework due to slow internet speed. With the connectivity abilities afforded by ACP, that time was cut to just 45 minutes.

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“It made all the difference in the world,” he said.

Prescher also works with the nonprofit Easter Seals in the Greater Houston area to help others sign up for ACP. Of the people he’s worked with directly — many of whom are fellow veterans — Prescher said ACP has given them the ability to go back to school and learn job skills, apply for jobs and meet health needs remotely.

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“The Affordable Connectivity Program has been critical for them to be able to afford [internet] as well as take part in online school, as well as apply for jobs online,” Prescher said. “And I work with a variety of people, but I do work with a lot of veterans. So telehealth is a critical element, especially for individuals with a variety of mental health issues. … That access to telehealth, them being able to interact with medical providers without being forced to leave … is absolutely critical.”

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Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., is helping to lead a bipartisan effort to get Congress to take up the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act, which would keep ACP solvent through the end of this year in an effort to give lawmakers time to reform and improve the program.

“I think for many who are economically burdened, this has been a literal lifeline,” Clarke said. “Without the subsidy, something has to give. And it may be broadband, unfortunately, but you have to feed your family. You have to purchase medications. You have to travel. Cost of living has gone up in all of these areas. And knowing that you could depend on that subsidy … it makes all the difference in the world.”

Her bill has 206 House Democratic co-sponsors and 24 Republicans on board, including Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., who is spearheading the push alongside Clarke.

“We live in a very increasingly digital world. Broadband internet access has become a necessity, no longer a luxury,” Fitzpatrick said.

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He urged more of his fellow Republicans to get on board, emphasizing that a significant number of the more than 23 million ACP recipients are military veterans.

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“A lot of mental health patients, a lot of veterans with PTSD, rely on this,” Fitzpatrick said, pointing out that roughly a million veterans rely on the program “to have access to their telehealth services.

“So, that’s the appeal I’m making to my Republican colleagues. This is a pro-veterans bill. And you’re looking at a million veterans you’re gonna leave behind on the health care front if we let this program expire.”

Both he and Clarke were optimistic they could save the program in time.

Fitzpatrick said he has discussed the bill with a member of House GOP leadership but did not reveal who.

Both the White House and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are lobbying Congress to save ACP.

“Today, May 1, begins the final month that Affordable Connectivity Program households will receive any benefit on their internet bills. Without congressional action to extend funding for the program, millions of Americans will see their internet bills go up or lose internet access at the end of this month,” the White House warned Wednesday.

Fox News Digital reached out to Speaker Mike Johnson’s office for comment but did not hear back by press time. 

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