Groups send letters to Congress in defense of Lifeline

Contact: Linda Sherry, 202-544-3088

To mark Lifeline Awareness Week (Sept. 9-15), Consumer Action and more than 80 groups including consumer rights, public interest, civil rights, religious and community-based organizations sent a letter to members of the Senate and House Commerce Committees urging them to support and protect the Lifeline Program.

Read the House letter and view the full list of signers. Read the Senate letter.

Lifeline provides a subsidy to low-income consumers to pay for a basic phone or wireless connection. Subscribers include seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, rural residents, Native Americans, people of color and struggling families. 

“Lifeline is a vital and modest low-income subsidy,” said Linda Sherry of Consumer Action. “The program ensures that our most vulnerable consumers have access to basic and affordable communications services for jobs, healthcare, contact with schools, etc.”

Despite the recent attacks on wireless Lifeline as a liberal construct (“Obamaphones”), the program was created under the Reagan administration. The George W. Bush administration expanded the program to cover wireless service. Lifeline’s critics have resorted to exaggerations and stereotypes in their campaign to eliminate the program. The Federal Communications Commission — the agency charged with the program’s oversight — recently implemented several reforms to make Lifeline more efficient.

In the letter, the groups write: “As public interest, civil rights, faith-based and community advocates, we, too, have an interest in seeing the efficient and effective use of the money collected from consumers for the Universal Service Fund. We believe the solution is to continue to enforce the rules of the reformed program to eliminate fraud and penalize those who abuse the program, including especially companies that fail to comply with the stricter Lifeline rules. While improving the program, however, we must continue to serve the individuals who need Lifeline most.”

About Consumer Action

Consumer Action has been a champion of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971. A non-profit 501(c)3 organization, Consumer Action focuses on consumer education that empowers low- and moderate-income and limited-English-speaking consumers to financially prosper. It also advocates for consumers in the media and before lawmakers to advance consumer rights and promote industry-wide change.

By providing consumer education materials in multiple languages, a free national hotline, a comprehensive website ( and annual surveys of financial and consumer services, Consumer Action helps consumers assert their rights in the marketplace and make financially savvy choices. Nearly 7,500 community and grassroots organizations benefit annually from its extensive outreach programs, training materials and support.





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