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) TesterDem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick Dems in terrible bind on Kavanaugh nomination Election Countdown: Latest on the 2018 Senate money race | Red-state Dems feeling the heat over Kavanaugh | Dem doubts about Warren | Ocasio-Cortez to visit Capitol Hill | Why Puerto Ricans in Florida could swing Senate race 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go toward funding private and public infrastructure projects, mapping internet access across the country, upgrading outdated internet capabilities and building out public safety infrastructure.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 StabenowDem senator: Kavanaugh sides with 'wealthiest special interests' Judge on Trump shortlist boasts stint on Michigan's high court Conservatives see Kethledge as 'Gorsuch 2.0' MORE (D-Mich.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDoug Jones walks tightrope on Supreme Court nominee Red-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick MORE (D-W.Va.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Mueller indicts Russians for DNC hack | US officially lifts ZTE ban | AT&T CEO downplays merger challenge | Microsoft asks for rules on facial recognition technology | Dems want probe into smart TVs Dems push FTC to investigate smart TVs over privacy concerns Hillicon Valley: Hacker tried to sell military docs on dark web | Facebook fined over Cambridge Analytica | US closer to lifting ZTE ban | Trump, Obama lose followers in Twitter purge | DOJ weighs appeal on AT&T merger MORE (D-Mass.) and Tester, along with Reps. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosDem generation gap widens Moulton looks to recruit new generation of Dem leaders Crowley stunner sets off new scramble among House Dems MORE (D-Ill.), Terri SewellTerrycina (Terri) Andrea SewellMoulton looks to recruit new generation of Dem leaders The Hill's 12:30 Report Members of Congress demand new federal gender pay audit 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.