Originally published: March 31, 2013
Last updated: May 5, 2013 - 9:24pm
The Senate rejected a proposal to end a federal cellphone subsidy in a mostly party line 46-to-53 vote.
The proposal, offered by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), would have been an amendment to the budget resolution. The proposal was non-binding, but was an important test of support for the cellphone subsidy, which is managed by the Federal Communications Commission. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) joined the Republicans in supporting the amendment. The program, called Lifeline, has been derisively referred to as the "Obama phone" program, although it began long before Obama took office. Outgoing Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski fired back at the sponsors of the amendment in a statement: “The Lifeline program has helped some of our most vulnerable citizens connect to emergency services, doctors and family in times of crisis," he said. "It has been a literal lifeline for these Americans -- and in today’s era, with a third of Americans having cut the cord to wireline phone service, it’s appropriate that Lifeline supports wireless service." He touted the commission's efforts to curb waste and abuse in the program. FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, the agency's most vocal defender of Lifeline, said the amendment failed to take into account how important Lifeline is to low-income families.
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