By The Hill Staff - 04/21/10 03:12 PM EDT
Despite Stupak's assertion, efforts remain underway to transform the Universal Service Fund into something that permits that money to be used for broadband expansion. The program is one of many the FCC hopes to launch in the coming months in its quest to expand high-speed Internet to 90 percent of U.S. households by 2020.
FCC commissioners began discussing the new "Connect America Fund" during their open meeting on Wednesday, during which support for the change seemed high. At the same time, Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, has forged ahead with legislation that would authorize such a change.
However, those efforts are moot unless the Senate approaches the issue with similar speed and intensity, which Stupak predicted the upper chamber would not. Still, he stressed the importance of a new broadband fund on Tuesday, telling ACA summit attendees it was crucial for growth.
"Updating the USF through legislation will greatly assist the FCC in modernizing the fund from a voice service program of the past into a broadband support program for the future as envisioned in the National Broadband Plan," Stupak said Tuesday.