Dems call for $40B to boost rural broadband

Dems call for $40B to boost rural broadband
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Congressional Democrats are calling for a $40 billion investment to expand internet access in rural and inner-city communities, likening their plan to New Deal efforts to expand the electrical grid.

The new proposal is the latest addition to the party's "Better Deal" agenda launched in July.

Democrats say public funds are needed because internet service providers on their own have failed to cover large swaths of the population.

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"I know it’s hard to believe, but there are places in rural America where there is no internet access or really slow broadband,” Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterAnother perfect storm: Why we must act before flood insurance runs dry Democrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  GOP campaign committees call on Democrats to return Franken donations MORE (D-Mont.) said in a statement announcing the proposal. 

“There are places where students can’t download the latest biology research, where first time home buyers have to physically deliver paperwork to their lender instead of email it, and where doctors can’t FaceTime with their patients. Rural Americans deserve a better deal than that.”

Under the plan, the $40 billion would go toward funding private and public infrastructure projects, mapping internet access across the country, upgrading outdated internet capabilities and building out public safety infrastructure.

The proposal was unveiled Thursday by Sens. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowRep. Upton won't seek Michigan Senate seat, focuses on reelection The feds need to return to the original intent of foreign investment review GOP campaign committees call on Democrats to return Franken donations MORE (D-Mich.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDemocrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  Overnight Finance: House passes sweeping tax bill in huge victory for GOP | Senate confirms banking regulator | Mulvaney eyed for interim head of consumer agency Overnight Regulation: Senators unveil bipartisan gun background check bill | FCC rolls back media regs | Family leave credit added to tax bill | Senate confirms banking watchdog MORE (D-W.Va.), Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeySenate Democrats introduce bill to block Trump's refugee ban FCC votes to limit program funding internet access for low-income communities Two GOP senators oppose Trump’s EPA chemical safety nominee MORE (D-Mass.) and Tester, along with Reps. Cheri BustosCheri BustosHoyer heads to the heartland on a ‘listening tour’ Dem bill aims to protect threatened pensions Top Dem: Trump will win again if Dems are too liberal MORE (D-Ill.), Terri SewellTerrycina (Terri) Andrea SewellLive coverage: Day four of the Ways and Means GOP tax bill markup Live coverage: Day three of the Ways and Means GOP tax bill markup Live coverage: Day two of the Ways and Means GOP tax bill markup MORE (D-Ala.), Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) and Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.).

The group says that the plan was modeled on the Rural Electrification Act, a New Deal-era bill that they credit with increasing access to electricity from 10 percent of Americans in 1936 to 90 percent by 1950.