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Klobuchar, Clyburn Introduce Comprehensive Broadband Infrastructure Legislation to Expand Access to Affordable High-Speed Internet

Senate bill follows introduction in the House of Representatives led by Majority Whip James Clyburn and the Rural Broadband Task Force.

The following press release was published on Sen. Amy Klobuchar's website on July 1, 2020.

WASHINGTON — Today U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, introduced comprehensive broadband infrastructure legislation to expand access to affordable high-speed internet for all Americans. The Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act will invest $100 billion to build high-speed broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities to close the digital divide and connect Americans to ensure they have increased access to education, health care, and business opportunities. The legislation in the House of Representatives is led by House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC) and members of the House Rural Broadband Task Force. 

In the Senate, the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act is cosponsored by Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).

“When we invest in broadband infrastructure, we invest in opportunity for every American,” Klobuchar said. “In 2020, we should be able to bring high-speed internet to every family in America — regardless of their zip code — and this legislation is a critical step to help bridge the digital divide once and for all.”

"I am pleased Sen. Klobuchar is leading the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act in the Senate,” Clyburn said. “This legislation was crafted in collaboration with the House Rural Broadband Task Force and members of the Energy and Commerce Committee. It invests over $100 billion to build nationwide high-speed broadband infrastructure, and makes the resulting internet service affordable for all. Sen. Klobuchar understands the needs of underserved communities and has been a consistent champion for the expansion of high-speed broadband access. I look forward to working together to pass this critical piece of legislation in both chambers."

“We are relying on the internet more than ever before. It helps people make a living, do their homework, receive health care services, and connect with each other,” Schatz said. “Our bill invests billions in areas that need it most so that everyone has access to high-speed internet.”

“The current health crisis has only underscored what we already know: that too many households across the country lack reliable access to broadband,” Warner said. “In Virginia alone, it’s estimated that more than 700,000 Virginians lack access to broadband, making it harder for families to access essential services during these unprecedented times. Access to broadband helps communities meaningfully participate in the digital economy. Individuals can apply for a job or submit a college application, families can connect with their health care providers without having to travel long distances, and teachers and students can advance and supplement their online learning. Accessibility to broadband is vital to increasing digital literacy, achieving economic stability, and advancing education, and this critical legislation will help bridge the gap for communities that still need access to this critical technology.”  

“During the coronavirus pandemic, more than ever, we are seeing how necessary robust and affordable broadband is to the future of education, employment, and medical care,” Markey said. “Those living in lower-income and rural areas without sufficient broadband are being left behind. That’s why now is the time to recommit to the goal of universal connectivity and act boldly to finally close the digital divide. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing legislation that will ensure broadband access for all Americans.”

“Internet access is a vital economic necessity, especially during these unprecedented times as millions of Americans are forced to adapt to a new normal that for many means remote schooling, teleworking, and doctor’s appointments on the computer instead of in-person,” Booker said. “For decades, rural communities, low-income communities, and communities of color have been excluded from the internet revolution and COVID-19 has only exacerbated that trend. We need to close the digital divide and end internet inequality. Our bill provides $100 billion towards broadband infrastructure to help ensure that all communities have reliable and affordable access to the internet.” 

“Underserved and rural communities don’t have access to reliable and affordable high-speed internet due to the shortcomings of our nation’s broadband infrastructure,” said Harris. “The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a stark reminder of how difficult it is for families to remain connected to school or work if they lack reliable internet. I am proud to join my colleagues in announcing this comprehensive legislation – it is past-time to make reliable high-speed internet a reality for everyone.”  

"Our current public health and economic crisis has made it all the more urgent that we get affordable, high-speed broadband to every home and business in our country. Congress needs to pass the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act to ensure every family can access school, work, and health care through the internet," Warren said. 

“As the coronavirus pandemic has made more apparent than ever, in the 21stcentury, every family in the country needs reliable access to broadband,” Cortez Masto said. “The worlds of information that the internet opens are key to education, health, small business, and other essential parts of our communities across Nevada. I’ve been working on connecting more Nevadans to reliable, quality internet since coming to the U.S. Senate, and so I’m especially glad to see this comprehensive legislation to support those who need access in rural and urban areas alike.”

“This moment of crisis has made clear the realities of our nation’s digital divide, and we must take meaningful steps to address this disparity,” Rosen said. “Families in Nevada and across our nation rely on the internet to access public benefits, search for employment, learn from home, and obtain telehealth services. Our legislation would not only encourage investments in universal and reliable broadband accessibility but also help reduce cost. We will continue working on innovations to our nation’s broadband in order to improve the lives of Americans.”

According to the Federal Communications Commission’s most recent Broadband Deployment Report, 18 million people lack access to broadband, and experts widely agree that this number is understated.

The Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act would do the following:

  • Encourage Universal Broadband Access by:
    • including $80 billion to deploy high-speed broadband infrastructure nationwide;
    • allocating $5 billion for low-interest financing of broadband deployment through a new secured loan program; and
    • establishing a new office within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to ensure efficient use of federal money.
  • Ensure Internet Affordability by:
    • requiring an affordable option for internet service plans offered on the newly-built infrastructure;
    • providing a $50 monthly discount on plans for low-income consumers; and
    • directing the FCC to collect and publicize data on prices charged for broadband service throughout the country.
  • Promote Internet Adoption by:
    • providing over $1 billion to establish grant programs for states to close gaps in broadband adoption, as well as digital inclusion projects for organizations and local communities to implement;
    • including $5 billion to enable students without internet at home to participate in remote learning; and
    • authorizing funding for Wi-Fi on school buses so students can stay connected, especially in rural areas where longer bus rides are common.

To learn more about the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act you can head over to Amy Klobuchar website and read the full press release.