Congresswoman Letlow, House Agriculture Republicans Introduce Broadband for Rural America Act
WASHINGTON -- Congresswoman Julia Letlow (LA-05) has joined with House Agriculture Republicans to introduce the Broadband for Rural America Act, one of several infrastructure proposals from House Republicans that bridge the digital divide for communities nationwide. The proposal from House Agriculture Republicans provides more than $7 billion in authorizations for USDA broadband connectivity programs.
“In this day and age, having a reliable and affordable internet connection is crucial to the success of our farmers, businesses and local schools, especially in rural America. The Broadband for Rural America Act will serve as a blueprint to connect communities across the nation and play an important role in bridging the broadband gap,” Letlow said. “This is a top priority that Congress should address on a bipartisan basis. Broadband access affects everyone, Republicans and Democrats alike.”
Letlow, a cosponsor of the bill, said that at least 350,000 households in Louisiana do not have high-speed internet as defined by the Federal Communications Commission, with most of those households living in the Fifth Congressional District.
Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA), Republican Leader of the House Agriculture Committee, said, “The one issue that unites rural members on both sides of the aisle is the need to address the digital divide. This critical infrastructure void has been exacerbated by the challenges faced by rural families and businesses during the pandemic.
“There are many broadband infrastructure plans, but the House GOP package puts a detailed plan on paper. This is also the only proposal that utilizes the expertise of USDA and focuses agencies across the government towards one common goal: connecting all Americans. Let’s put aside partisan differences, debate the merits of this legislation, and address this significant infrastructure need.”
The Broadband for Rural America Act:
- Authorizes $3.7 billion per year for critical rural broadband programs, including the ReConnect Rural Broadband Program, the Middle Mile Broadband Program, and the Innovative Broadband Advancement Program
- Targets limited resources so assistance is focused on the most rural and least-connected residents, which are often the most expensive to connect
- Promotes borrower accountability and protects taxpayers with new tools to ensure promised services are delivered to rural communities