By Mario Trujillo – 03/31/16 03:53 PM EDT at The Hill
Millions of poor Americans will be eligible for federal subsidies to help pay the cost of Internet service after new regulations were approved in a whirlwind Federal Communications Commission (FCC) meeting on Thursday.
The FCC voted to expand its 30-year-old Lifeline program, which has offered the monthly $9.25 subsidy for voice-only phone service.
The three Democratic commissioners approved the proposal over opposition from the two Republicans, who have concerns about the program’s budget.
The vote was delayed for more than three hours as Republicans accused FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler of scuttling a late-night compromise to bring them on board.
They said they had a deal with Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn before it fell apart under pressure from the chairman, members of Congress and outside groups.
“I must address the elephant in the room: the delay in the meeting and rumors about a proposed cap on the Lifeline program,” Clyburn said at the meeting. She said she engaged in negotiations with Republicans but ended up backing out because the deal did not “fully achieve my vision.”
Clyburn told reporters said she is five feet two inches tall but “not easily bullied.” Wheeler gave a one word response to charges that he bullied his fellow Democrat: “Balderdash.”
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