WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, and Roger Wicker (R-MS) announced that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reached an interagency agreement to share information about and coordinate the distribution of federal broadband funding. This agreement follows the passage of the Broadband Interagency Coordination Act, legislation led by Klobuchar and Wicker which was signed into law in December 2020.
“Every family in America needs access to broadband internet connection, no matter their zip code,” Klobuchar said. “Following my legislation, the federal government is enhancing coordination to connect unserved and underserved areas to broadband.”
“Interagency coordination is critical to bridging the digital divide given the multiple agencies that support broadband deployment. Without coordination of these efforts, agencies risk wasting scarce federal resources, duplicating support provided by another agency, or overbuilding a project already subsidized by federal dollars or private investment. This announcement is good news for the Americans who continue to live without the benefits of a broadband connection,” Wicker said.
Klobuchar has long championed closing the digital divide and expanding internet access. Klobuchar and Wicker’s Broadband Interagency Coordination Act directed the FCC, NTIA, and the USDA to enter into a memorandum of understanding to coordinate the distribution of federal funds for broadband deployment and ensure funds are targeted to unserved and underserved areas.
In March, Klobuchar and House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC) introduced comprehensive bicameral broadband infrastructure legislation to expand access to affordable high-speed internet for all Americans. The Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act would invest over $94 billion to build high-speed broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities to close the digital divide and ensure Americans have internet connectivity to learn and work from home, access telehealth services, and stay connected to loved ones.
The year-end omnibus package passed in December 2020 also included funding for Klobuchar’s priorities to:
- Ensure students with the greatest financial need can access high-speed internet (based on Klobuchar’s Supporting Connectivity for Higher Education Students in Need Act); and
- Implement the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act, bipartisan legislation to improve the accuracy of the FCC’s broadband availability maps, which was signed into law in March of 2020.
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