June 24, 2020 — House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., and other members of the Rural Broadband Task Force introduced the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act on Wednesday.
The act would invest more than $100 billion in high-speed infrastructure in areas without comprehensive internet service.
Clyburn said that thousands of children in his home state of South Carolina lack broadband access. He said that the bill included “what we think will bring broadband to every home in America.”
Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., said that the move comes at a crucial time.
“Those who still lack broadband access are having a real difficult time,” he said. “Stay-at-home mandates have forced millions of students out of their classroom[s].”
Butterfield also spoke about the necessity of these technologies for rural and low-income communities, where residents often cannot afford the internet that makes their work or schooling possible.
“It is imperative that we focus our deployment efforts on these unserved and underserved parts of the country to increase access where it does not exist today,” he said.
Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., said that the digital divide is a significant problem in her home state.
“In the state that I represent, Alabama, 3.3 million residents don’t have the minimum broadband speed required to do streaming,” she said. “It is simply unacceptable in 2020.”
The bill is part of a flurry of broadband access-focused legislation. However, it is unclear when, if ever, some of the bills will be adopted.
Last month, Clyburn and Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., introduced the Rural Broadband Acceleration Act, which seeks to accelerate broadband infrastructure funding deployments.
“We are long overdue in ensuring that every American is connected to broadband,” said Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif. “If we want to close the income and wealth gap in this country, we have to close the digital divide.”
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