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Republican Committee Leaders Ask Administration for Detailed Accounting on Broadband Programs


12.23.21

Washington, D.C. — Yesterday, Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Oversight and Reform Republican Leader James Comer (R-KY), and Appropriations Committee Republican Leader Kay Granger (R-TX) led a series of broadband oversight letters with Education and Labor Committee Republican Leader Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Agriculture Committee Republican Leader Glenn Thompson (R-PA). The committee leaders sent letters to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Education (ED), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) asking questions about steps these agencies are taking to close the digital divide.  

This past year, Congress provided historic levels of funding for broadband deployment to make sure all Americans are connected. These letters are the first step to pursue aggressive oversight and make sure these billions of dollars are directed toward unserved Americans rather than wasted on serving areas that already have broadband access. 

Key excerpts from the letter to NTIA: 

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans have relied on their high-speed broadband connections more than ever to work, educate their children, access health care, and connect with loved ones. Unfortunately, these benefits remain out of reach for millions of Americans, particularly those living in rural and remote areas, who continue to lack access to broadband connections.   

“Through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (the Act), the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Congress provided billions of dollars for programs across federal agencies to bridge broadband connectivity gaps.   

“The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is one of the key agencies charged by Congress with administering broadband funding. Through these funding packages, NTIA received nearly $1.5 billion to expand broadband access for unserved areas, Tribal lands, and minority communities, $42.45 billion for broadband deployment, $2.75 billion for “Digital Equity” grants, and $1 billion for middle mile broadband infrastructure.  

[..] 

“As you work to allocate grants pursuant to these laws, we urge you to prioritize funding for unserved communities that lack access to any broadband connection rather than funding duplicative or upgraded service in areas that already have broadband access.” 

The committees ask each agency to “provide a detailed accounting of any CARES Act, Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, or ARPA funds that you have awarded or allocated to support broadband connectivity.” 

Click the links below to read each letter to respective agencies: 

Letter