Trone, Sewell Lead 83 Representatives to Press for Broadband Funding in Next Congressional COVID-19 Response Package

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May 12, 2020
Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hannah Muldavin, Hannah.Muldavin@mail.house.gov

 

Trone, Sewell Lead 83 Representatives to Press for Broadband Funding in Next Congressional COVID-19 Response Package 

Effort Endorsed by Majority Whip Clyburn, Chairman of the House Democratic Rural Broadband Task Force

 

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Representatives David Trone (MD-06) and Terri Sewell (AL-07) led a group of 83 Representatives to urge Congressional leadership to invest $86 billion in broadband funding in the future COVID-19 response legislation. 

The importance of broadband in both rural and urban communities has become increasingly clear during a time when telehealth, telework, and telelearning are critical to allowing Americans to stay home and stop the spread of COVID-19. 

U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn, Majority Whip and Chairman of the House Democratic Rural Broadband Task Force, endorsed the effort, which complements the House Democratic Plan to Connect All Americans to Affordable Broadband Internet that was released last month

“The coronavirus pandemic has shown that swaths of this country are being left behind by insufficient broadband infrastructure,” said Congressman Trone. “It’s time to invest in digital highways to bring the entire country into the 21st century and global economy. I want to thank Congresswoman Sewell and Whip Clyburn for joining in the effort to ensure this critical infrastructure is included in the next Congressional stimulus package.”

“The coronavirus has only further highlighted the importance of high-speed, affordable internet, as lack of access has made it more difficult for Alabamians to learn from home, access telehealth services, and telework during the pandemic,” said Congresswoman Sewell. “It is beyond time that high-speed internet is treated as a basic utility and rolled out to every community across the country. I am hopeful leadership will acknowledge just how critical broadband access is with a significant investment in its implementation in the next response package.”

Reps. Trone and Sewell were joined by 81 other Members in sending the letter, including: Tim Ryan (OH-13), Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Joseph D. Morelle (NY-25), Marc Veasey  (TX-33), Jared Huffman (CA-02), André Carson (IN-07), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (VA-08), Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), Joyce Beatty (OH-03), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), TJ Cox (CA-21), Ed Case (HI-01), Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Jesús G. "Chuy" García (IL-04), Matt Cartwright (PA-08), Mike Thompson (CA-05), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Anthony G. Brown (MD-04), Jim Costa (CA-16), Suzan K. DelBene (WA-01), Greg Stanton (AZ-09), Bobby L. Rush (IL-01), Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (MP-AL), Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr. (GA-04), Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), Angie Craig (MN-02), Peter A. DeFazio (OR-04), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), Kathleen M. Rice (NY-04), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07), Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (GU-AL), Cindy Axne (IA-03), Peter Welch (VT-AL), Tony Cárdenas  (CA-29), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Cindy Axne (IA-03), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), John B. Larson (CT-01), Ben Ray Luján (NM-03), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Dean Phillips (MN-03), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-AL), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Lori Trahan (MA-03), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Linda T. Sánchez  (CA-38), Darren Soto (FL-09), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Cedric L. Richmond (LA-02), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-05), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Grace Meng (NY-06), Joseph P. Kennedy, III (MA-04), William R. Keating (MA-09), Dwight Evans (PA-03), John Garamendi (CA-03), Thomas R. Suozzi (NY-03), James E. Clyburn (SC-06), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), Steven Horsford  (NV-04), Joe Cunningham (SC-01), Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Diana DeGette (CO-01), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03),

 

You can find a copy of the letter here.

 

Below is the text of the letter: 

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, Leader McConnell, and Leader Schumer,

Thank you for the inclusion of broadband and telehealth provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support American workers, students, and patients who face being disconnected from essential services and information during this crisis. The lack of internet access was already a problem for millions of Americans, and the COVID-19 crisis has only exacerbated the situation.

Over the last several weeks, our offices have heard countless stories from our constituents who are unable to telework, support their children’s virtual education, consult with doctors, connect with loved ones, or receive essential services because of the lack of broadband connectivity or affordability in their community. More than 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the pandemic started and schools across the country have closed and cancelled classes to slow the spread of COVID-19. We therefore believe that future stimulus packages should support the deployment of secure and resilient broadband, provide hotspots for students to close the homework gap and allow for distance learning, and expand access and affordability for unserved and underserved communities with sufficient speed and data that reflects American families’ increased reliance on internet access.

We believe that in the response to the COVID-19 crisis an overall investment of at least $86 billion is needed. This would expedite high-speed broadband deployment and expand funding to ensure that Americans who need broadband service can remain connected during this public health crisis and recovery. This should include emergency broadband benefits for low-income consumers that meet the demands of telework, telehealth and telelearning.

Setting up and successfully utilizing distance learning tools can be a challenge in the best of times, but the Coronavirus has placed an added urgency in ensuring all students can connect to digital education resources. We believe an emergency expansion of the E-Rate educational connectivity programs is needed to help schools connect students that do not have a home Internet connection, digital equipment, or cannot access school and community facilities (libraries, recreation centers). While we employ interim measures to address the immediate need and bridge the connectivity gap, we must also invest in the high-speed broadband deployment necessary to reach every unserved and underserved American family, hospital, school and small business. It is important that we protect taxpayer dollars and ensure federal resources are used efficiently by leveraging competition to connect all Americans to future-proof broadband networks. We should also continue to support robust funding in Rural Utility Service (RUS) programs like the ReConnect Program, Telecommunication Infrastructure Loans and Loan Guarantees, Community Connect Grants, and Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants. If we fail to invest now, millions of American will be disconnected from the economic recovery on the other side of this crisis.

For these programs to be most effective, coordination among federal agencies is necessary to streamline the application process for assistance from federal programs and to ensure broadband-related support is being administered in an efficient, technology-neutral, and financially sustainable manner. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it increasingly clear that having access to high speed broadband is a necessity. We must invest in expanding affordable and reliable high-speed Internet access in the next emergency relief package. We thank you for your attention to this critical issue and looking forward to working in tandem to bring broadband to communities that are in desperate need of this essential tool for life in the 21st Century.

Sincerely,

 

Congressman David Trone was elected to the House of Representatives in November 2018 to serve the 6th District of Maryland, which includes all or part of Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties. Trone serves on the Education and Labor, Foreign Affairs, and Joint Economic Committees, where he is fighting to make progress on issues that matter to Marylanders, including the opioid epidemic, criminal justice reform, and funding for medical research. 

 

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