Last Friday, Senator David Vitter (R-LA) proposed an amendment to the U.S. Senate’s budget resolution which, if adopted, would have eliminated mobile phone services from the federal Lifeline program. The amendment was defeated by a vote along party lines, with the exception of Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri as the only Democrat supporting the measure. Two additional amendments proposing to eliminate the program or impose a $5 minimum fee for recipients, drafted by Senators McCaskill and Tom Coburn (R-OK) respectively, were introduced but never offered for vote.
In response to the proposed legislation, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn issued a strong statement noting that the current FCC “inherited a program that did not have proper controls in place, but last year we took appropriate and significant steps to correct that. As a result, we saved more than $200 million last year and are on target to save $2 billion by the end of 2014.” She ended her statement by saying that “in no uncertain terms should qualifying low-income consumers who have followed the rules, be refused service.”