T&I Republicans’ Bill to Help Bring Broadband to Rural & Economically Distressed Communities Continues to Draw Support
Support continues to build for the E-BRIDGE Act, a bill to remove barriers for communities seeking to use Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants to develop high-speed broadband access. The bill is part of House Republicans’ broader broadband agenda.
The Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act (H.R. 3193) was introduced in the House of Representatives on May 13, 2021, by Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) and Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS). The bill removes hurdles for broadband projects under EDA grants, including difficult last-mile efforts that often delay rural broadband deployment. It also ensures that local communities can partner with the private sector in carrying out broadband projects and gives communities more flexibility in complying with their funding match requirements.
Yesterday, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) led the introduction of a Senate companion bill to the E-BRIDGE Act.
In addition, the following organizations have voiced their support for H.R. 3193:
“Broadband access has been a lifeline during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the past year has shown us just how important it is to get everyone connected. On behalf of NTCA’s members, I want to thank Ranking Member Graves for his demonstrated interest in advancing connectivity through the E-BRIDGE Act. We particularly appreciate this bill’s emphasis on targeting efforts to areas most in need of broadband access and coordinating between various federal programs seeking to help promote such access.” – Shirley Bloomfield, CEO, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association
“This legislation would ensure that economic development organizations, in public-private partnerships or through consortia, can use Economic Development Administration grant funds to support private sector-led projects like broadband deployment, including TVWS [television white spaces]. With the sudden and likely persistent increased reliance on broadband for work, education, and healthcare due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge lawmakers to support this measure and advance it as quickly as possible.” – Morgan Reed, President, ACT | The App Association
“Broadband is critical for farmers, ranchers and rural communities. With 17% of rural Americans still without reliable broadband, the digital divide restricts access to essential education, healthcare and business resources as well as limits farmers’ capacity to use the latest technology to meet sustainability goals. Farm Bureau appreciates Representatives Sam Graves and Michael Guest for introducing the Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility Act, a bill that would expand access to broadband by allowing distressed communities to utilize Economic Development Administration grants for broadband deployment.” – Zippy Duvall, President, American Farm Bureau Federation
“The E-BRIDGE legislation will help support access to high-speed broadband connectivity throughout rural regions, which is an essential resource that is fundamental to the prosperity and economic strength of all communities across the country, and a particularly important component that must be addressed in order to facilitate rural prosperity.” – Joe McKinney, Executive Director, National Association of Development Organizations (NADO)
“On behalf of Economic Development Sedalia-Pettis County’s Board of Directors’ and the over 70 manufacturers in Pettis County, please accept this letter of support for the Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act…. Expanded broadband access for students, job seekers and current employees would allow for more individuals to upskill and remain connected in this technology-led economy…. In many instances, access to fiber in the home drives where people are choosing to buy homes and raise families. We have great family-supporting jobs waiting for these individuals and want to ensure they do not face barriers such as lack of broadband.” – Jessica L. Craig Executive Director, Economic Development Sedalia-Pettis County (MO)
Note: The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has jurisdiction over the programs of the EDA and its economic development programs.
Click here to read more about the E-BRIDGE Act (H.R. 3193).