Nineteen Republican lawmakers are trying to eliminate subsidies that help poor people purchase cell phone service and broadband.
The legislation filed on Friday targets Lifeline, which is a Universal Service Fund program paid for by surcharges on phone bills. If the bill passes, low-income Americans would no longer be able to use $9.25 monthly subsidies toward cellular phone service or mobile broadband. The subsidies would still be available for landline phone service.
"Hardworking American taxpayers are already overburdened and should not be forced to pay for a program that has vastly expanded beyond its intended scope and is riddled with waste, fraud, and abuse," US Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) said in an announcement of his legislation. "My bill will reform the Lifeline Program and restore it to its original purpose of providing landline services and prohibit Universal Service support for mobile services. In order to promote government accountability, cut government fraud and waste, and protect consumers from further increases to their phone bills, the Lifeline Program’s free cell phone plans should end."