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Table of Contents - May 15, 2020

House Dems Propose $5.5B For COVID-19 Lifeline, Home E-Rate Funds

House Democrats on May 12 introduced a $3 trillion COVID-19 response bill that includes $4 billion for a new Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund to provide deeper Lifeline discounts to help low-income households and those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic pay for broadband connections, as well as $1.5 billion for a new Emergency Connectivity Fund that schools and libraries could use to provide Wi-Fi hot spots and other connected devices and services to students, school staff, and library patrons engaged in remote learning, working, and other online activities while staying home to reduce the spread of the virus.

The House Democrats’ proposal for what would be the fifth legislative package to address the COVID-19 pandemic — dubbed the Heroes Act in a nod to provisions aimed at providing financial support to first responders, health care workers, teachers, and essential workers — would also authorize, subject to later appropriation, an additional $5 billion for the Emergency Connectivity Fund for schools and libraries, an additional $8.8 billion for the Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund, an additional $2 billion for an Emergency Health Care Connectivity Fund, and $200 million for state grants to connect the state supplemental nutrition assistance program database to the National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier.

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Simons Explains FTC Concerns For Consumers During Pandemic

In a generally amicable teleconference forum on May 11, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s consumer protection and commerce subcommittee asked Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joe Simons to explain the agency’s efforts to address scams and fraudulent claims related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, privacy concerns arising from increased use of videoconferencing, and proposals to harness technology to track people’s location in order to trace contacts as potential virus transmission vectors.

They also asked what additional authority the agency might need to address consumer concerns at this time.

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