Communications and Technology Subcommittee Schedules Hearing to Examine Lifeline Program on April 25

March 26, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) today announced the panel will hold a hearing on April 25, 2013, to examine the Universal Service Fund’s Lifeline program, which has tripled in size from $800 million in 2009 to $2.2 billion per year in 2012. In advance of the hearing, Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Chairman Emeritus Joe Barton (R-TX), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Walden, Subcommittee Vice Chairman Bob Latta (R-OH), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) sent a series of letters today to obtain more information on the government’s efforts to reform the program and determine what more can be done.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the members wrote, “While reforms the FCC adopted starting in 2011 may be slowing growth, they do not appear to be containing the absolute size of the fund. We remain concerned that the trajectory is still unsustainable. Since the American people ultimately pay for the program through a surcharge on their phone bills, and because many of those footing the bill face their own challenges in this economy, we want to make sure ratepayer funds are being spent wisely. And since waste and abuse will divert funds from helping those who truly need it, we want to make sure the funds are being appropriately targeted.”

The members also requested the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) provide assistance gathering best practices from states taking steps to combat waste, fraud and abuse. This will allow the subcommittee to explore whether these practices might be a good model for the FCC or other states to follow.

Click here to read the letters to FCC Chairman Genachowski and NARUC.

Additional details on the April 25, 2013, hearing, including logistics, witnesses, and testimony will be posted here when available.