MINNESOTA - U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, was joined by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, U.S. Senator Tina Smith, U.S. Representative Angie Craig, Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, Minnesota Telecom Alliance President and CEO Brent Christensen, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Matt Varilek, Association of Minnesota Counties leadership, and state broadband leaders in St. Paul to highlight recently announced federal funding to bring reliable, affordable, high-speed internet access to every household in Minnesota. The $651,839,368 federal investment was made possible through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which Klobuchar, Smith, and Craig helped pass in 2021.
“Broadband is critical to access everything from education to health care and economic opportunity to staying connected with friends and family. As co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, I’ve been fighting to bring high-speed internet to every family in America for a long time and with this investment for our state through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’re taking another major step towards getting it done,” said Klobuchar. “I want to thank Secretary Raimondo not only for joining us in Minnesota to highlight these investments but also for helping to put these federal dollars to work.”
“In Minnesota, there are more than 210,000 locations that are unserved or underserved. Each of those locations represents a farm that can’t use modern tools, a small business stuck in an analog era, a family cut off from telehealth care, or a student missing the opportunities that our digital world can bring. Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the support and leadership of Senator Klobuchar, Senator Smith, and Representative Craig, this week we’re celebrating the biggest ever investment in broadband to help us finally close the digital divide in our country once and for all,” said Raimondo.
“Broadband isn’t just nice to have. It’s essential if we’re going to build an economy that works for everyone,” said Smith. “That’s why I’m so excited to announce this transformative funding that will connect tens of thousands of Minnesotans to reliable, high-speed internet. Connecting families and small businesses to broadband is just one of the reasons I worked so hard to pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. I’m proud of our work to secure these investments and will continue working to make sure every Minnesotan has access to affordable, high-speed broadband.”
“In 2023, there are few issues more important than ensuring every single Minnesotan – no matter their zip code or income level – has access to reliable, high-speed internet. I’m proud to have worked with state and federal partners to bring home $651 million in federal funding to Minnesota – to help ensure our farmers can plant and harvest their crops, our children can complete their homework and everyone can access health care – no matter where they live,” said Craig.
The Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act, Klobuchar’s legislation with former House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) to expand high-speed internet nationwide, served as the basis for this broadband program created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) at the Department of Commerce will provide funds directly to states to expand broadband access across the country, starting with areas that completely lack connectivity. These grants will help ensure those in unserved and underserved communities have the high-speed internet necessary to participate in the modern digital economy.
As co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, Klobuchar has led efforts to expand broadband access, support rural broadband, and bridge the digital divide.
In March, Klobuchar and Senators John Thune (R-SD), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), and Jerry Moran (R-KS) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to expand broadband access to rural communities. The Reforming Broadband Connectivity Act would strengthen funding mechanisms for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Universal Service Fund (USF), which promotes universal access to broadband and other telecommunications services. Currently, the USF is primarily funded through landline fees, disproportionately impacting seniors, who are more likely to use landlines than other Americans.
In February, Klobuchar introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to strengthen broadband access for rural communities. The Rural Broadband Protection Act will ensure that providers applying for federal funding can reliably deliver broadband to underserved, rural communities.
In March 2022, Klobuchar and Thune led a bipartisan group of colleagues, in urging the FCC to provide rural communities with guidance on their broadband funding status.
In July 2021, Klobuchar introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to expand rural broadband access by streamlining the funding process and removing barriers for broadband connectivity in hard-to-serve rural areas.
In December 2020, several of Klobuchar’s key broadband priorities were signed into law as part of the year-end omnibus package passed by the Senate.
Klobuchar has also been laser-focused on ensuring that the work to build the infrastructure starts immediately. That’s why in November 2022, Klobuchar joined Senators Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico and John Barrasso of Wyoming in urging the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, and Commerce to streamline permitting for internet service providers deploying broadband through federal lands. These permits are processed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or National Forest Service, and their prolonged delays can jeopardize broadband projects by increasing costs and causing providers to default on their buildout deadlines.