Bipartisan leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee today requested data from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding funding distribution and reform efforts in the Universal Service Fund (USF). Full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-CA) are seeking an update to similar bipartisan committee letters that were sent in the 112th Congress.
In the letter to the FCC, the committee leaders wrote, "We are writing to ask that the Commission provide an update to that earlier information request. Since the committee's last request, the FCC has continued to implement significant efforts to reform both the high-cost and low-income support programs. We have modified our data request to reflect the changes underway in both programs."
Upton and Walden commented, "Americans pay nearly $9 billion dollars into the Universal Service Fund each year. Today's letter continues a standing bipartisan request to the FCC for data to aid the committee in its oversight of the fund, prevent waste, fraud and abuse, and ensure the taxpayers are getting the most benefit for every USF dollar."
"This is the sixth year that I've requested this type of information from the FCC in order to better understand where and how billions of dollars in Universal Service subsidies are spent each year," said Waxman. "The FCC has made a significant commitment to modernize these programs and ensure scarce public dollars are used effectively. I will continue to push the FCC to pursue USF reforms that benefit American consumers and crack down on waste, fraud, and abuse."
"By the FCC's own estimate, 18 million Americans remain without access to high-speed Internet," said Eshoo. "This lack of robust broadband access continues to be particularly pervasive in rural and tribal lands. Our data request ensures that the committee has the most up-to-date performance information so that Universal Service subsidies can be maximized to spur further broadband growth in critical areas of the United States."