Thune Statement on FCC Decision to Return Lifeline Program Authority to States

March 29, 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, issued the following statement on the announcement by Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai that the agency will with withdraw from litigation and allow states to perform the role Congress intended in designating broadband providers eligible for federal subsidies.

“Giving states authority over designating Lifeline providers is what Congress has always intended. States play a crucial role in ensuring that Lifeline is run honestly and efficiently. Chairman Pai is correcting FCC overreach that threatened accountability and, therefore, the success of the Lifeline program.  I thank Commerce Committee Senators Fischer and Udall for their leadership in supporting the role of states to prevent waste and abuse in the effort to connect Americans to the internet through broadband.”

In February, Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) joined Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) in introducing the Preserving State Commission (PSC) Oversight Act. The bill proposed reinforcing existing law to ensure that states have primary authority to determine which carriers participate in the FCC universal service Lifeline program. The Lifeline program provides phone and broadband service to Americans who cannot otherwise afford it.