Wicker Commends FCC for Recognizing State Role in Lifeline Program

Proposed Rule Would Return Power to States, Help Fight Waste, Fraud, and Abuse

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today welcomed a vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to begin the process of overturning an Obama-era rule that preempted the authority of states to designate eligible telecommunications carriers (ETC) in the FCC’s Lifeline program.

“States play an important role in preventing waste, fraud, and abuse in federal programs, in addition to ensuring that people have access to essential communications services,” Wicker said. “By its action today, the FCC is taking steps to ensure states have a say in the Lifeline program.”

Last year, Wicker joined 24 other members of Congress to express concern about then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s actions to circumvent states in designating ETCs in the Lifeline program. The members wrote:

“While the FCC’s order stresses that it does not preempt the state ETC designation process for Lifeline voice service, the state role in designating ETCs will no longer exist by the end of that process. And in the meantime, nothing prevents providers from forum shopping to seek designation from the regulator with the more lenient requirements. As such, we worry this rule change could increase the risk of waste fraud and abuse in the program, as well as the chance that consumers will lose the vital check on service quality that existed prior to the FCC’s decision.”