November 08, 2023

Van Hollen, Markey, Meng Statement on Expansion of E-Rate Program

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06) issued the following statement today after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed expanding the E-Rate program to allow schools and libraries to loan out Wi-Fi hotspots to students and educators:

“The FCC’s action to expand E-Rate is a critical step to ensure millions of students and educators do not lose access to high-speed internet at home, as well as an important recognition that education extends beyond the classroom. This action could not have come at a more important time for our students. With the Emergency Connectivity Fund running out of money, millions of students could lose access to broadband internet, deepening educational inequalities and reversing our critical progress in closing the homework gap. While we work in Congress to expand upon the incredible success of the ECF program, we are pleased that the FCC is stepping up to support students and their families. We applaud Chairwoman Rosenworcel for advancing this proposed rule and look forward to working with her and the Commission to continue closing the digital divide.”

The expansion will help maintain the progress made by the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), a $7 billion program that the lawmakers created within the American Rescue Plan to provide devices and connectivity for students and educators at home. The ECF program has helped connect roughly 18 million students across the nation to their schools and teachers at home.

In July 2021, Senators Van Hollen and Markey and Congresswoman Meng introduced the Securing Universal Communications Connectivity to Ensure Students Succeed (SUCCESS) Act, which would provide an additional $8 billion a year over five years to the ECF.