Washington (June 26, 2023) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and Representative Grace Meng (NY-06) issued the following statement after Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel today announced a proposal to expand E-Rate funding to include Wi-Fi hotspots and Wi-Fi on school buses. The Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) – which the lawmakers created within the American Rescue Plan – is a $7 billion program that provides devices and connectivity for students at home. ECF has helped more than 17 million students across the nation get connected to their schools and teachers.
“The lack of reliable, high-speed internet access impacts students from low-income, historically marginalized, and rural communities the hardest,” said Senator Markey and Representative Meng. “The homework gap was an emergency long before the COVID-19 pandemic, but now connectivity is even more essential for students, parents, and teachers. While we work in Congress to provide funding for high-speed, reliable internet access for all students, we applaud Chairwoman Rosenworcel for heeding our call to find additional opportunities for the Emergency Connectivity Fund. With the new school year just a few months away, we cannot allow millions of students across the country to lose access to broadband. We urge the FCC to swiftly adopt this commonsense proposal to expand E-Rate funding to include Wi-Fi hotspots and internet support for school buses.”
In December 2022, Senator Markey and Representative Meng sent a letter to congressional leadership to support their continued efforts to provide funding for the ECF. In July 2021, the lawmakers 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. Senator Markey is the House author of the original E-Rate program, which has invested nearly $62 billion in schools and libraries across the country.