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Pallone Pounds GOP Over Lifeline Bill

In debate before a vote on H.R. 5525, the “End Taxpayer Funded Cell Phones Act of 2016," Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, took to the House floor to slam Republican backers of the bill, which would disallow low income Lifeline telecom subsidies for mobile broadband phones or service.

"Ryan and the Republican majority is bringing a bill to the floor that would eliminate the successful Lifeline program that provides millions of low-income Americans access to basic communications services," said Pallone.

He said Republicans are looking to gut a Lifeline program created in the Reagan Administration and expanded to wireless in the Bush Administration.

He said the claims of waste, fraud and abuse come despite the Obama Administration's elimination of nearly $750 million of that.

The bill would continue to collect the same fees from ratepayers used for the subsidy but not allow any to be used for wireless, which Pallone says does nothing to help taxpayers.

The bill is unlikely to pass, given that it is being brought up under a suspension of the rules, which requires a two-thirds majority, and thus would need Democrats who are unlikely to support the bill.

Given that, Pallone suggests, Republicans know the bill won't pass but want to force Democrats to kill it.

"The American people know that if Republicans were really serious about battling poverty and shrinking the size of Lifeline, they would work with us to create more jobs for those that are unemployed or under-employed. The best way to lower the costs of the Lifeline program is to lift people up, not to take away their connection to a better life," he said.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.