Markey, Van Hollen, Meng Call on Congress to Provide $1 Billion in the Omnibus for the Emergency Connectivity Fund

WASHINGTON (November 14, 2022) – Today, Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.); Member of the Senate Trade Committee; Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.); Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance; At-large and Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06) are asking Congress to provide $1 billion in a year-end omnibus for the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), which funds equipment and education for students and educators. Connect to the Internet at home. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) needs to fully fund the $2.8 billion in ECF requests it received during its most recent application window. To provide immediate Internet access to millions of American students who are unable to get online at home, lawmakers have moved to secure provisions creating an emergency connectivity fund within the U.S. relief package.

“The Emergency Connectivity Fund is a critical lifeline for students and educators across the country, ensuring students have the tools they need to get online at home. Funding for this program is drying up, and without additional federal dollars, we will not be able to meet the needs of students, teachers, and school districts, as this program is critical to 21st century education.” MPs said. “Pulling the plug on the ECF would be disastrous for our kids at a time when they are trying so hard to build momentum. Harming internet access for millions of students is also a waste of the smart investments we’ve made in home connectivity. We are asking our partners to step up for our students and provide an additional $1 billion for the ECF to ensure that the 15 million young people who benefit from the program are not disconnected from their teachers and classmates.

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced in May that it received more than $2.8 billion in requests for ECF funding in its most recent application window, far more than the estimated $1.5 billion in remaining funds. Senator Markey The $1 billion request by Senator Van Hollen and Congresswoman Meng is enough for the FCC to fund all legal applications received during that application window. To date, the FCC has spent $80 million in Massachusetts; Nearly $6.3 billion has been distributed through the Emergency Connections Fund, including $95 million in Maryland and $777 million in New York.

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In June, Senators Markey and Van Hollen and Congressman Meng led 76 of their colleagues in a letter urging congressional leaders to support efforts to obtain additional funding for the Emergency Connections Fund. Senator Markey last year; Introduced by Senator Van Hollen and Congressman Meng. Securing Universal Communications Connectivity to Ensure Student Success (SUCCESS) Act An additional $8 billion per year over five years — a total of $40 billion — to the ECF program to keep students connected to the Internet after the coronavirus pandemic.

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Since the inception of the E-Rate program more than two decades ago, More than $60 billion has been invested in Internet access for schools and libraries across the country, including more than $841 million in Massachusetts. Senator Markey was the author of the original E-Rate program, created as part of the Communications Act of 1996 to connect schools and libraries to the Internet. ECF is a natural extension of the E-Rate program to provide students and educators with reliable Internet access at home.

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