RELEASE: Gottheimer, Reed, Spanberger Want a Portion of State & Local Municipality Funding in New COVID-19 Relief Bill Dedicated Specifically to Broadband Connectivity

Prioritizing Underserved, Rural, Lower-Income Communities

To help families work, learn, access doctors, vaccine appointments, job applications remotely

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Tom Reed (NY-23), and Abigail Spanberger (VA-7) urged Congressional leadership to dedicate $45 billion of the $350 billion relief to state and local governments in the new COVID-19 relief package to address broadband connectivity in local communities. 

The Members requested that these funds for broadband connectivity and accessibility be equitably distributed to underserved areas to meet the needs of rural and lower-income communities.

These grant programs would support telehealth, remote learning, broadband infrastructure, and digital literacy. 

"As Congress considers additional relief efforts to manage the virus, it must continue to recognize that an investment in high-speed broadband internet for all Americans is a necessary component of our nation’s recovery. While we applaud the money included for broadband in past COVID-19 relief packages, it is clear that more investment is needed," the Members wrote in a letter today. "We cannot address the economic crisis when unemployed workers struggle to apply to or interview for job openings from home, nor can we manage the health crisis when families cannot access resources to register for a vaccination or consult with their doctor remotely. Being able to connect to quality internet services is not a luxury, it is foundational to our nation’s recovery and ability to successfully compete in a post-COVID economy." 

Gottheimer, Reed, and Spanberger are all members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which recently unveiled its key priorities agenda for the 117th Congress — with broadband expansion as one of the key issues included in the agenda and a real opportunity for bipartisan lawmaking.

Today’s letter was sent to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

The full text of the letter can be found below:

Dear Speaker Pelosi, House Republican Leader McCarthy, Majority Leader Schumer and Senate Republican Leader McConnell:

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen how inadequate access to fast, reliable broadband can affect nearly every part of our lives, causing difficulties working and learning from home, accessing necessary medical services, and connecting friends and families. Every American should have access to these vital services, especially as we work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible. Problems with Internet connectivity are especially acute for rural and lower-income urban communities where high-speed internet services are lacking or non-existent.

As Congress considers additional relief efforts to manage the virus, it must continue to recognize that an investment in high-speed broadband internet for all Americans is a necessary component of our nation’s recovery. While we applaud the money included for broadband in past COVID-19 relief packages, it is clear that more investment is needed. We cannot address the economic crisis when unemployed workers struggle to apply to or interview for job openings from home, nor can we manage the health crisis when families cannot access resources to register for a vaccination or consult with their doctor remotely. Being able to connect to quality internet services is not a luxury, it is foundational to our nation’s recovery and ability to successfully compete in a post-COVID economy.

Congress should continue to prioritize broadband development and expansion by offering targeted resources in the next COVID-19 relief legislation to be used specifically for broadband needs. In the final text of the reconciliation package, State, local, and Tribal governments should be required to utilize $45 billion of the $350 billion that is dedicated for their governments to establish grant programs that address broadband connectivity issues in their communities, whether it is for telehealth, remote learning, broadband infrastructure, or digital literacy. State, local, and Tribal governments should also be required to ensure that these funds for broadband development and expansion are equitably distributed to underserved areas so that the needs of rural and lower-income urban communities are both met.   

Thank you for your prompt and fair consideration of our request.

Sincerely,

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

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