Ark. congressman wants to disconnect $1 billion free cell phone program

If the program were scaled back to cover only landlines, Griffin told TheDC, some of the abuse would disappear.

“You don’t have a big incentive for people to have numerous landlines in their homes,” he said.

The Federal Communications Commission, the government agency that is in charge of Lifeline, has also called for an overhaul of the program to deal with fraud and abuse. The FCC’s proposed changes call for a database to keep track of who already has phones, to prevent any one person from gaming the system. The proposed overhaul would also institute “a one-per-household rule applicable to all providers in the program.”

That might make Griffin’s bill redundant, but he is adamant that swift action by Congress is necessary.

“I don’t think the federal government should be providing free cell phones, and it’s an insult to America’s hardworking taxpayers to wait around to see if the FCC’s reforms actually address the costly abuses they created,” he insisted.

The FCC did not respond to request for comment.

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