COVID-19 Stimulus Package Provides Significant Broadband Relief to Help Connect Low-Income Households, Ignores other Democracy Reform Priorities 

Today, Congress released the text to an emergency $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus package that includes $7 billion to increase broadband access throughout the nation. While, foregoing other needed democracy reforms present in earlier versions of pandemic relief legislationthe package specifically includes an Emergency Broadband Benefit, which provides $3.2 billion for a $50 monthly subsidy for eligible low-income households and a $75 monthly subsidy for households on Tribal lands to purchase a broadband connection. Households eligible for the Benefit include those who qualify for the Federal Communications Lifeline program, free and reduced school lunch, college Pell grants, and individuals who have seen a loss of income due to the economic fallout since the beginning of the pandemic.  

Statement of Yosef Getachew, Common Cause Media and Democracy Program Director

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many of the longstanding disparities in broadband connectivity we face today, particularly for low-income households who struggle to afford the high prices that are too often linked with a broadband connection. The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide much-needed relief to address the connectivity needs of low-income households so they can fully participate in our economy and democracy. The legislation also ensures affordable broadband for individuals who have recently lost their jobs or have been furloughed due to the pandemic.  We commend Congressional leaders for prioritizing broadband affordability in the stimulus package and for taking steps to bridge the digital divide during the pandemic. 

“The House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act more than seven months ago, but Senate Republicans failed to act on that COVID relief bill. The final stimulus package that was released today does not include other provisions critical to safeguarding our democracy, such as extending the Census or apportionment deadlines. Common Cause and our more than 1.5 million members will continue fighting for these priorities into 2021.”  

Congress is expected to pass the legislation tonight.