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House E&C to Consider Lifeline-Capping Bill

The House Energy & Commerce Committee has included a bill to cap the FCC's Lifeline low-income subsidy in a legislative hearing scheduled for April 13.

That is a chance to review the bill, rather than a markup, which would be amending and potentially voting it out of committee.

A politically divided FCC voted last week not to impose a hard cap on the fund, which came after a compromise proposal from Republican Ajit Pai that would have capped the fund fell apart after Democrat Mignon Clyburn reconsidered and said she could not support a cap.

The committee's Republican leadership signaled last week that vote would trigger consideration of the bill, the CURB (Controlling the Unchecked and Reckless Ballooning of) Lifeline act.

The bill caps the fund at its current $1.5 billion annually--the FCC voted to increase the subsidy to $2.25 billion and even the Republican-backed compromise would have raised it to $2 billion.

It would also prevent the subsidy--which is $9.25 per month--from being used for a cell phone or other device.

It would also end voice-only mobile service subsidies--the FCC proposals phases out voice-only mobile over several years and even then allows for extending that if necessary.

The bill was introduced March 23--in advance of the FCC's Lifeline vote--by Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.).