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House unanimously passes bill to create new broadband office within Commerce Department

Published by PoliticoPro on May 8, 2019

By John Hendel

House lawmakers today unanimously approved legislation to create a new Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth within the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

The office envisioned by the ACCESS BROADBAND Act, H.R. 1328 (116), would conduct outreach, hold workshops and develop guidance all targeted at getting more communities around the country connected to high-speed internet. Reps. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) earlier this year reintroduced the measure, which has enjoyed broad bipartisan support.

The bill is an example of Capitol Hill pressure on the Trump administration to streamline and better coordinate its broadband connectivity efforts. Lawmakers have broadly complained about the federal government's shortfalls when it comes to measuring and helping in the buildout of internet service.

Today's House vote was considered under suspension of the rules, a procedure used to fast-track uncontroversial legislation. The bill previously passed in the House last summer but died in the Senate, with a version in that chamber only introduced in the final months of the last Congress.

The bill has more time to make it through the Senate this time around. A bipartisan mix of senators led by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) filed companion legislation last month.

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