The Biden administration will halt enrollment in a program that provides broadband discounts to millions of Americans as it runs low on funds and prepares to wind down in the coming months.
The Affordable Connectivity Program will stop accepting new enrollments at 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday, a White House spokesperson confirmed.
The cutoff comes as the program’s remaining funding is to set to run out in May. The Biden administration, which has previously called on Congress to provide an additional $6 billion to extend the program through the end of the year, again urged lawmakers to take action.
“For President Biden, internet is like water,” Tom Perez, a senior adviser to the president and director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s an essential public necessity that should be affordable and accessible to everyone.”
“Just as we wouldn’t turn off the water pipes in a moment like this, we should never turn off the high-speed internet,” he added. “That is the pipeline to opportunity and access to health care for so many people across this country.”
The Affordable Connectivity Program provides assistance to some 23 million households nationwide. Eligible low-income households can receive discounts of up to $30 per month on internet service, while eligible households on tribal lands can receive discounts of up to $75 per month.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which runs the program, warned lawmakers last month that it would have to begin the process of winding it down given the lack of funding.
“Absent additional funding, we could lose the significant progress this program has made towards closing the digital divide,” FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a series of letters to congressional leaders. “Yet we have come too far with the [Affordable Connectivity Program] to turn back.”