Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Republican Leader Bob Latta (R-OH), and Republican subcommittee members continued their efforts to expand access to broadband services for American communities by penning a letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting an audit of and asking several questions about the Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program (ReConnect Pilot Program) within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“As GAO and others have reported, access to broadband infrastructure is critical for economic development, educational and job opportunities, and public health and safety. Yet, overbuilding broadband networks diverts scarce budget resources from unserved areas to areas where broadband is available or will be made available through private investment or other federal resources. On March 23, 2018, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 was enacted into law and appropriated $600,000,000 in new funding for a temporary pilot program at the USDA to support broadband infrastructure deployment. Subsequently, Congress appropriated $1,452,060,000 to this temporary pilot program in 2019 and 2020. Given the need to ensure the most efficient and effective use of federal dollars to promote broadband infrastructure deployment and guard against waste, fraud, and abuse, we request an in-depth GAO audit of broadband support provided by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency within the USDA responsible for implementing and administering the temporary ReConnect Pilot program,” the members wrote.
The letter was signed by Walden and Latta, along with Reps. Pete Olson (R-TX), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Billy Long (R-MO), Bill Flores (R-TX), Susan Brooks (R-IN), Tim Walberg (R-MI), and Greg Gianforte (R-MT).
Read the letter HERE.