CARES to Fund Rural Broadband?

  • Post category:Blog

A bipartisan coalition of thirty U.S. Representatives, headed by Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), has written a letter to ranking House and Senate leaders, asking that CARES Act funds, “be eligible for permanent broadband infrastructure construction…” It also requested “that Congress provides additional time for the buildout of new infrastructure.”

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act originally set aside $150 billion for states and local governments to respond to COVID-19-caused health emergencies. Now, according to the letter, “it is…necessary to give states flexibility to invest in permanent broadband solutions.”

The letter concludes that, “We…request that the upcoming relief bill provides additional time to spend Coronavirus Relief Funds as well as flexibility to allow for more effective… broadband infrastructure construction.” Recipients of this letter were House Speaker Pelosi, Senate Democrat Leader Schumer, House Republican Minority Leader McCarthy, and Senate Republican Leader McConnell.

Giving states the right to allow providers to use previously appropriated CARES monies to bring long term – not temporary — broadband facilities to rural America, and to do so beyond year-end 2020, both seem like great ideas to us.

We simply hope that any discussions on this proposal are far more successful than those recent Congressional negotiations attempting to provide a second round of much needed Stimulus payments to all COVID-affected Americans.