Source: United States Senator for Colorado Michael Bennet
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Angus King (I-Maine), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) hailed the historic broadband investment in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which mirrors the bipartisan BRIDGE Act they introduced earlier this year. If passed, this would be the largest federal broadband investment in U.S. history.
IIJA provides $65 billion for broadband, over $40 billion of which goes to states via block grants as the senators proposed in the BRIDGE Act. It also includes $2 billion for broadband service on Tribal lands, which the senators proposed in their original bill. IIJA also adapts the BRIDGE Act’s provisions to require new networks to meet minimum quality standards and provide at least one tier of affordable service, while prioritizing even faster, future-proof networks. As in the BRIDGE Act, states would have broad flexibility to close the digital divide based on their local needs, from deploying new high-speed networks to promoting broadband affordability and adoption.
“The bipartisan infrastructure bill will make the largest ever broadband investment in American history, and I am beyond gratified that it draws heavily on my BRIDGE Act with Senators King and Portman,” said Bennet. “This historic investment will extend the promise of high-speed broadband to students, workers, farmers, and small businesses across the country, driving opportunity, transforming communities, and allowing millions more people to fully participate in modern American life. I want to thank my colleagues and co-sponsors Senators King and Portman. We would never have made it this far without their tremendous leadership and partnership.”
“The coronavirus pandemic has made it clear that broadband is essential infrastructure – which is why the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill includes the largest-ever investment in broadband,” said King. “The bipartisan legislation includes $65 billion to support broadband deployment and help extend the internet’s opportunities to every corner of our country, so Americans of all backgrounds can fully participate in work, connect to remote and in-school learning, and access healthcare regardless where they live. access the connectivity they need to work, learn, shop, and more. I’m particularly thrilled that of that $65 billion, over $40 billion will go directly to states through block grants, reflecting my bipartisan proposal with Senators Bennet and Portman. These funds will increase broadband connectivity, affordability, and speeds for millions of Americans, while prioritizing the resilient, future-proof infrastructure that we need. This is a proud day, which will create enormous possibilities as more American communities get the tools they need to compete in the 21st century economy.”
“I’m pleased key pieces of this important legislation are included in the bipartisan infrastructure agreement. Too many rural and low-income communities in Ohio and across the U.S. lack affordable and reliable access to broadband,” said Portman. “By helping underserved areas rapidly gain broadband access, this historic piece of bipartisan legislation takes significant steps to finally close the digital divide.”
The historic broadband investment in IIJA builds on Senator Bennet’s longtime leadership to ensure access to affordable, high-speed broadband for every American. Earlier this year, he led a bipartisan letter to the Biden Administration’s top officials for federal broadband policy with Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) urging the Biden administration to raise and align broadband speeds and standards across the federal government. In March, Bennet helped to secure more than $7 billion for the FCC’s E-Rate program in the American Jobs Plan to connect low-income students online. Last June, Bennet also co-sponsored the Emergency Broadband Connections Act, which passed as part of the 2020 end-of-year relief bill and will now provide $3.2 billion to help economically distressed Americans afford broadband connections.