H.R. 7132 would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to select either the Lifeline program or the Affordable Connectivity Program to provide emergency communications support for six months to domestic violence survivors who request it. CBO assumes that the commission would select the Lifeline program because it is permanently funded. CBO expects that more people would use the Lifeline program as eligibility requirements are expanded for domestic violence survivors.
Under current law, the program provides a discount on phone or Internet service to eligible low-income consumers and is funded through assessments on telecommunications carriers. Those assessments, which are treated as revenues in the federal budget, may be spent without further appropriation on the Lifeline program. CBO estimates that the FCC, through the Universal Service Administrative Company, would levy additional assessments on telecommunications carriers to cover the cost of more people using the program. Those additional assessments would be levied starting in 2024 after the commission completes rulemaking required under H.R. 7132.
On July 25, 2022, CBO transmitted a revised cost estimate for S. 120, the Safe Connections Act of 2022, as passed by the Senate on March 17, 2022. The two versions of the legislation are similar and CBO’s estimates of their budgetary effects are the same over the 2022-2031 period. This estimate is relative to the May 2022 baseline and thus includes the budgetary effects for 2032.