WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn and members of the House Rural Broadband Task Force celebrate its one-year anniversary today by highlighting their major accomplishments over the past year. Over the past year, the Task Force has been successful in highlighting the lack of internet access in rural America and coming up with solutions to provide affordable high-speech internet access. Due to their commitment to this issue, the Task Force was successful in securing pieces of the recently announced broadband plan in the Heroes Act.
Earlier this month, the Rural Broadband Task Force joined with Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., Chairman of the Energy & Commerce Committee, and additional members of the House Democratic Caucus to announce a plan to connect all Americans to affordable broadband internet. The plan makes robust investments in future-proof infrastructure, ensures internet affordability and competition, and promotes internet adoption through grants for projects to promote digital literacy and inclusion.
“It’s unacceptable that in the 21st century many Americans still lack access to the internet,” said Majority Whip Clyburn. “Over the past year the Task Force has been successful in putting a spotlight on the need to provide affordable and accessible internet to every American. I’m proud of the work we’ve been able to accomplish to date and look forward to continuing this work until we achieve our goal of affordable universal broadband coverage.”
Members of the Task Force continue to work with key stakeholders, including consumer advocates, market participants, local governments, and Administration officials to develop strategies to eliminate digital deserts and ensure rural Americans can thrive in the 21st century information economy.
In Addition to Creating the Rural Broadband Task Force’s Broadband Plan, Task Force Member Accomplishments Include:
- Congressman Dave Loesback (IA-02) introduced the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act, which became law March 23, 2020. This legislation is providing critical improvements to the broadband mapping process to ensure awareness of all unserved areas.
- Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (VA-07) led a successful bipartisan effort to prevent Senate appropriators from cutting hundreds of millions of dollars for broadband infrastructure funding through the USDA’s ReConnect program in fiscal year 2020.
- Congressman Joe Cunningham (SC-01) introduced the VA Tele-Hearing Modernization Act, bipartisan legislation that was signed into law on April 10, 2020. The bill requires the Board of Veterans’ Appeals to allow veterans with pending appeals to appear before the Board remotely from their personal computers.
- Congresswoman Cindy Axne (IA-03) hosted FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel for two roundtables, bringing together broadband providers, businesses, and educators to discuss ways to improve education, economic development, and telehealth opportunities through improved access to affordable high-speed internet in rural Iowa.
- Congressman TJ Cox (CA-21) introduced the Telehealth Expansion Act to assist low-income Americans, rural households, and veterans through telehealth services while cutting costs for health care providers using telehealth.
- Congressman Antonio Delgado (NY-19) introduced the Broadband Speed Act to require internet service providers to report actual, not advertised, speeds and require new FCC funding awards to be built out at speeds of 100 Mbps or higher.
- Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) introduced the Broadband Transparency and Accountability Act to bring much-needed reform to broadband data verification and sharing to bring transparency to both Internet access and affordability.
- Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) brought a bipartisan congressional field hearing to the University of Maine at Machias to hear from the small businesses, organizations, and stakeholders working to build out broadband infrastructure in rural Maine and to identify policy changes that will help expand rural broadband access.
- Congresswoman Kendra Horn (OK-05) hosted a rural broadband roundtable with Oklahoma broadband providers and key stakeholders to develop strategies to improve broadband access, specifically with a focus on access to telehealth, distance learning, and remote work.
- Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06) has led the effort to increase funding for mobile hotspot deployment through the introduction of the Closing the Homework Gap Through Mobile Hotspots Act and continued advocacy for emergency hotspot funding during the COVID-19 health crisis.
- Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) introduced the Broadband Data Improvement Act of 2019, which would improve the broadband mapping process nationwide to reflect accurate coverage levels in rural areas. This bill was one of the proposals that contributed to the development and enactment of the Broadband DATA Act.
- Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small (NM-2) helped lead the introduction of the Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act—legislation that aims to improve health care in underserved and rural communities through support of technology-based health care systems.
- Congressman Peter Welch (VT-at-large) introduced the Keeping Critical Connections Act, which would appropriate $2 billion for an emergency relief fund to help small broadband providers maintain and upgrade internet service for students and low-income families.
Members of the House Rural Broadband Task Force include Representatives James E. Clyburn (SC-06), Cindy Axne (IA-03), Sanford Bishop (GA-02), Anthony Brindisi (NY-22), G.K. Butterfield (NC-01), TJ Cox (CA-21), Angie Craig (MN-02), Joe Cunningham (SC-01), Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), Jared Golden (ME-02), Kendra Horn (OK-05), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Ron Kind (WI-03), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), Annie Kuster (NH-02), Dave Loebsack (IA-02), Tom Malinowski (NJ-07), Donald McEachin (VA-04), Grace Meng (NY-06), Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Collin Peterson (MN-07), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02), Lauren Underwood (IL-14), and Peter Welch (VT-At Large).