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Coats Backs Bill to End Free Cell Phone Welfare Program

Press Release

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, joined Senators David Vitter (R-La.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today to introduce a bill that would end the welfare subsidy for mobile phone service in the Lifeline Program.

"Too often, Washington creates a program that may be well-intended, but ends up costing taxpayers more money because of poor implementation and a lack of oversight," said Coats. "As many Hoosiers and middle class Americans continue to struggle in this economy, they shouldn't have to pay for a program littered with fraud that subsidizes free cell phones. I will continue to push Congress and the administration to examine every federal program to find ways we can be more efficient and save taxpayer dollars."

Created in 1984, the Lifeline Program was designed to expand landline services for low-income households through the Universal Service Fund (USF). In 2008, the program supporting mobile phones was expanded to include wireless service providers. The program has grown from $143 million in 2008 to $2.2 billion in 2012.

Although the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken steps to tighten eligibility rules, a recent review in the Wall Street Journal of five top recipients of Lifeline support conducted by the FCC disclosed that approximately 41 percent of subscribers either could not validate their eligibility or failed to respond to requests for certification.


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