Tonko Broadband Legislation Advances in Key House Vote

Bipartisan bill will streamline the ability for underserved communities to get access to federal broadband resources.

  • Congress

 

WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Paul D. Tonko’s bipartisan ACCESS BROADBAND Act (H.R. 1328) passed in the House last night as part of the omnibus federal spending bill H.R. 133, which also passed the Senate and is expected to be signed into law quickly by the President. 

Tonko’s coordination bill would make it easier for businesses and local leaders to bring federal funding to underserved or unserved areas in need of broadband access. H.R. 133 also invests more than $730 million to expand broadband services to provide economic development opportunities and improved education and healthcare services.

“This pandemic has further exposed gaps in broadband access across our nation that have hindered economic growth and development for underserved communities for far too long,” Congressman Tonko said. “Across our own Capital Region, I have heard from doctors stalled in delivering telehealth services, students struggling to complete and submit school work, and business owners unable to connect with consumers online. These are just a handful of the millions of Americans living without broadband access. I have fought hard to advance my ACCESS BROADBAND Act to close these gaps and provide the access our communities need to survive and thrive. With its inclusion in our omnibus package, along with needed funds to expand access, we are one step closer to ensuring this vital resource is made available to every American.”

The ACCESS BROADBAND Act seeks to achieve several goals:

  • Establishes an Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which already has the necessary infrastructure, resources and staff to oversee and track broadband funding across agencies.
  • Directs this office to simplify access for small businesses and local communities, possibly including small business workshops and other support resources.
  • Streamlines process for small businesses & local governments to apply for federal broadband assistance; improves coordination across government and the private sector.

Tonko has made it a priority to expand and improve broadband access for underserved communities. H.R. 1328 was included in the major House of Representatives infrastructure package, H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act advanced in the House earlier this year. The ACCESS BROADBAND Act also passed out of the House as a standalone bill last year.

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