Press Releases

Committee Approves E-BRIDGE Act to Improve Rural Broadband and Other Legislation

Washington, D.C., July 28, 2021 | Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446 | comments
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The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure today approved the Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act, in addition to legislation that improves coordination of the development of advanced air mobility, improves the disaster damage assessment process for local communities, saves taxpayer dollars when addressing federal property needs,   and  authorizing the use of the U.S. Capitol Grounds for the National Peace Officers Memorial Service.

Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act (H.R. 3193)

H.R. 3193 removes hurdles for broadband projects under Economic Development Administration (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.  More information about how the E-BRIDGE Act will increase the reach of broadband to rural and economically distressed communities is available here.

Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO), lead sponsor of H.R. 3193, said, “This is a big step forward for Missourians and Americans nationwide without access to reliable high-speed broadband internet.  The E-BRIDGE Act breaks down barriers in existing federal grant programs to unlock more funding to get last-mile internet infrastructure projects completed.  It doesn’t matter how old you are or where you live, Americans of all walks of life use the internet for everything, from precision agriculture, to telemedicine, to school and work.  It’s critical that we get folks plugged in, and I’m grateful my colleagues on both sides of the aisle came together to get this commonsense legislation passed out of committee.”

U.S. Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS), a cosponsor of H.R. 3193, said, “I’m proud to say that the E-BRIDGE Act is one step closer to final passage.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with my colleagues to advance this bill, which would help implement modern approaches to economic development and create new opportunities for individuals to work, attend school, socialize, and access health care in every corner of our country.  I will continue to work with Ranking Member Graves and my colleagues on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to close the digital gap and expand broadband to our rural communities.”

Key stakeholders have also voiced support for the E-BRIDGE Act:

“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

“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 of the American Farm Bureau Federation

“The E-BRIDGE legislation will help support access to high-speed broadband connectivity throughout rural regions. These resources will allow for greater economic resiliency across the country and will help facilitate rural prosperity.” – Joe McKinney, Executive Director, National Association of Development Organizations (NADO).  Read the full letter of support from NADO.

“One way to boost productivity and bridge gaps in equity is through investing in digital infrastructure.  The App Association supports Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act (H.R. 3193/S. 1695) because this legislation would ensure that economic development organizations, in public-private partnerships or through consortia, can use Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant funds to support broadband deployment.” –Morgan W. Reed, President, ACT | The App Association.  Read the full letter of support from ACT.

“By offering more robust broadband access in the workplace and residences, we can build the pipeline of talent needed for these employers to remain and grow within our communities. 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.” – Jessica L. Craig Executive Director, Board of Directors of Economic Development Sedalia-Pettis County, Missouri.  Read the full letter of support.

Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act (H.R. 1339)

H.R. 1339 establishes an interagency working group, led by the Department of Transportation, to plan and coordinate efforts related to the safety, operations, infrastructure, security, and federal investment necessary for the development of advanced air mobility, to ultimately provide better air transportation connectivity to all corners of the United States.  The bill ensures the working group will coordinate with stakeholders within the aerospace industry.

Subcommittee on Aviation Ranking Member Garret Graves (R-LA), co-sponsor of H.R. 1339, said, “Remember the Jetsons?  The reality is that technology to make short flights to cover short distances – as we do now by driving or taking an Uber or Lyft – is not that far off.  It could be positively disruptive, but we can only realize the benefits of technology like this if we are prepared.  Where will they land?  How will we ensure these short flights avoid planes and helicopters?  How will we plan future infrastructure?  These questions and many others must be answered for the United States to maintain our global leadership in this transformative technology known as Advanced Air Mobility.  Our legislation helps to get those questions answered and prepare the United States so we can take full advantage of new transportation technologies across our country.”

Preliminary Damage Assessment Improvement Act of 2021 (H.R. 3709)

H.R. 3709 makes disaster recovery easier for victims by improving state and local communities’ ability to coordinate with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in determining the impacts of major disasters, determining damage assessments, and submitting requests for major disaster declarations.

U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY), lead sponsor of H.R. 3709, said, “I’m pleased to announce the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has advanced my bill, the Preliminary Damage Assessment Improvement Act.  In recent years, communities in my district along Lake Ontario’s shoreline have faced devastating and costly flooding.  Unfortunately, due to constraints at FEMA, federal relief for disaster-impacted communities can be unnecessarily delayed.  Consistency and dependability at this agency is key.  My bipartisan legislation will ensure that FEMA does its part to support disaster response efforts nationwide and ensure reliable access to federal assistance for impacted communities.”

Bill to allow GSA to enter into bargain price purchasing agreements (H.R. 2220)

H.R. 2220 ensures that the General Services Administration (GSA) is able to negotiate discounted purchase options in situations when the buying of federal property is the cheaper alternative to a long-term lease.

U.S. Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS), the lead sponsor of H.R. 2220, said, “Innovation and free market solutions continue to provide pathways towards a more efficient government spending, and I believe we have outlined one of those pathways in this bill.  Following its markup, we are now one step closer in reducing waste and replacing it with commonsense, free market solutions that promote responsible use of the taxpayer dollar.”

Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee Ranking Member Daniel Webster (R-FL), a cosponsor of H.R. 2220, said, “Every dollar spent in Washington is a dollar taken out of a hardworking American's pocket.  I ran for Congress pledging to eliminate waste and improve efficiencies so we are better investing taxpayer dollars.  With today’s committee action, we are one step closer to removing unnecessary obstacles that increase costs and replacing them with commonsense practices that will save money.”

Authorization for the National Peace Officers Memorial Service (H.Con.Res. 41)

H. Con. Res. 41 authorizes the Grand Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police and its auxiliary to host the 40th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service on the Capitol Grounds.

Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee Ranking Member Daniel Webster (R-FL), who cosponsored the measure, said, “The vast majority of the brave men and women in law enforcement that serve our communities are selfless servants that work tirelessly to protect us and our families from evil and ensure that our laws are upheld.  I am grateful for these many law enforcement officials who serve and protect our neighborhoods with humility and brotherly love.  When so many are attacking police, I am honored to sponsor this bill with Chair Titus and express my support for these officers, their families, and those who have lost their lives in the line of duty.”

For a complete list of measures approved during today’s markup, click here.

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