To Congress:

Millions of people across the country are facing a tidal wave of shutoffs as households are unable to get out from under the crushing weight of utility debt.

That debt, which piled on during the economic and health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, is in the billions of dollars nationally. And as the Delta variant spreads at an alarming pace, it is more important than ever to pass legislation that secures utility-debt relief so no one is cut off. Access to water, power, and internet are human rights. People need relief and they need it now.

The Maintaining Access to Essential Services Act — a House companion to Sen. Merkley’s Senate Bill 1783 — would provide $13.5 billion to help cancel household-drinking-water and wastewater debt, $13 billion to help forgive household-electricity debt and $13 billion to help forgive household-broadband debt.

This funding is tied to public protections and would require moratoria on utility shutoffs, late fees, selling consumer-utility debt to collectors and tax liens to collect utility debts. The legislation would also require service restoration for folks who are already disconnected, establish reporting requirements about disconnections and arrearages, and stop companies from sending damaging reports about households’ unpaid bills to credit agencies.

The Maintaining Access to Essential Services Act is a critical first step to supporting low-wealth families and communities of color that have borne the brunt of compounding threats of utility shutoffs and poverty — bringing us one step closer to a just economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cosponsor the Maintaining Access to Essential Services Act today and pass it in the budget-reconciliation package.

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    Cancel Utility Debt

    Urge Congress to #CancelUtilityDebt

    Households across the country are being crushed by a tidal wave of utility debt. That weight — which totals in the billions of dollars nationally — is decades in the making and was worsened by the economic and health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    With government supports put in place during the pandemic expiring, it's critical that we work together to ensure that people are able to access water, power and internet. No one should ever have to decide between paying their utility bills and paying for other essentials.

    The bipartisan infrastructure package moving through the Senate has no protections against utility shutoffs. It also doesn’t provide substantive utility-debt relief.

    Urge your members of Congress to use the infrastructure package to #CancelUtilityDebt.

    This action is supported by the Utility Justice Coalition, which is led by the Center for Biological Diversity, Corporate Accountability International, The Democracy Collaborative, Food & Water Watch, Free Press Action and Partnership for Southern Equity.

    The graphic on this page was designed by Rianna Eckel.