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Lujan Gets Senate Commitments on ACP, Rip-and-Replace Funding Push

Senate Communications Subcommittee Chairman Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., said Thursday night he has secured commitments from chamber leaders to move forward on allocating $6 billion in stopgap funding for the FCC’s affordable connectivity program and $3.08 billion for the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program amid last-minute talks to pass an FAA reauthorization package. The Senate was still voting Thursday night on passing an amended version of the FAA Reauthorization Act (HR-3935) that doesn’t include the ACP/rip-and-replace language Lujan and others sought, as expected.

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There’s a commitment to move in such a way that there will be votes” to allocate more money to ACP, which is set to see its funding run out at the end of May, Lujan told reporters Thursday night. He had been talking with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and other leaders on the floor minutes earlier. Lujan said he had refiled as a standalone measure the ACP/rip-and-replace amendment he previously sought to attach to the FAA package. He denied he was holding up consideration of a House-passed one-week extension of the FAA’s mandate (HR-8289) to secure commitments on his proposal.

Lujan expects the ACP/rip-and-replace measure to come up during a Senate Commerce Committee markup next week, either as a standalone bill or as an amendment to the revised draft Spectrum and National Security Act, which itself proposed funding both FCC programs. The Lujan proposal includes language to modify ACP rules, including subsidy eligibility thresholds. “I’m hoping that they’ll receive bipartisan support and that there’s a solution there,” Lujan said.