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Klobuchar-led legislation to expand access to affordable high-speed internet passes House

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a major infrastructure bill, which includes the House companion to Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s comprehensive broadband infrastructure legislation to expand access to affordable high-speed internet.

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. Klobuchar (D-Minn.), co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, released a statement after the bill’s passage.

“When we invest in broadband infrastructure, we invest in opportunity for every American,” Klobuchar stated in a news release. “In 2020, we should be able to bring high-speed internet to every family in America — regardless of their ZIP code — and passing Whip Jim Clyburn’s legislation in the House is a critical step to help bridge the digital divide once and for all. I call on the Senate to immediately consider this important legislation.”

The Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act, which Klobuchar introduced in the Senate, will invest $100 billion to build high-speed broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities in an effort to close the digital divide and connect Americans to ensure they have increased access to education, health care and business opportunities.

The bill is cosponsored by Sens. 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).

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The act would do the following, according to the release:

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.

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