augusta free press news

Luria bill seeks to expand internet access to SNAP families

(© Gajus –

A bipartisan bill introduced by Congresswoman Elaine Luria (D-VA-02) would help households that benefit from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to receive relief for phone and internet costs through the FCC Lifeline Program.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, reliable internet access is no longer a luxury, but a crucial piece of infrastructure that people depend on for their jobs and students use to learn,” said Luria, whose bill is titled the Ensuring Phone and Internet Access for SNAP Recipients Act of 2020 (H.R. 8427). “I am pleased to lead this bipartisan bill, which will help the FCC better target its efforts to expand internet access to families throughout Coastal Virginia and our nation. By making reliable internet more accessible, we can open new work and educational opportunities.”

The Lifeline Program expands access to phone and broadband services to qualifying low-income consumers. SNAP recipients automatically qualify for this program.

According to the Universal Service Administrative Company, only 15 percent of eligible Virginian households participated in the Lifeline Program.

Luria’s bill would require the FCC and USDA to survey SNAP recipients to learn if they are enrolled in the Lifeline Program. If SNAP recipients are not enrolled in this program, the survey would ask if they would participate in the Lifeline Program.

This survey will present a five-year projection on enrollment and will show how the FCC can improve its Lifeline Program’s outreach efforts.

“Two major issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic remain food insecurity and the digital divide. By law, Virginia SNAP recipients are eligible for reliable access to phone and internet service through the FCC’s lifeline program — but just a fraction of those eligible are enrolled,” said Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07). “I’m proud to help introduce the Ensuring Phone and Internet Access for SNAP Recipients Act to fix this longstanding issue, and I’d like to thank my fellow Virginian Congresswoman Luria for her leadership in introducing this bill.”

“I am proud to sponsor the Ensuring Phone and Internet Access for SNAP Recipients Act of 2020 which would improve the FCC Lifeline Program and help more Americans get internet access,” said Congressman Denver Riggleman (R-VA-05).  “Closing the digital divide has been one of my priorities during my time in Congress and this bill will go a long way in closing that divide and providing lifechanging internet access for many Americans.”