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) TesterThe 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Memorial Day during COVID-19: How to aid our country's veterans Senate votes to reauthorize intel programs with added legal protections 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go toward funding private and public infrastructure projects, mapping internet access across the country, upgrading outdated internet capabilities and building out public safety infrastructure.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 StabenowDemocrats warn of 'captured' GOP court ahead of November election Senate Democrat introduces bill to protect food supply The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip MORE (D-Mich.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDemocratic unity starts to crack in coronavirus liability reform fight Stakes high for Collins in coronavirus relief standoff The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Surgeon General stresses need to invest much more in public health infrastructure, during and after COVID-19; Fauci hopeful vaccine could be deployed in December MORE (D-W.Va.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: New documents show EPA rolled back mileage standards despite staff, WH concerns | Land management bureau grants 75 royalty rate cuts for oil and gas | EPA employees allege leadership interference with science in watchdog survey EPA's Wheeler grilled by Democrats over environmental rollbacks amid COVID-19 Markey says EPA administrator should apologize to minorities for coronavirus response MORE (D-Mass.) and Tester, along with Reps. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosGOP pulls support from California House candidate over 'unacceptable' social media posts Republican flips House seat in California special election GOP's Don Bacon and challenger neck and neck in Democratic poll MORE (D-Ill.), Terri SewellTerrycina (Terri) Andrea SewellDemocratic candidates gear up for a dramatic Super Tuesday Bill banning menthol in cigarettes divides Democrats, with some seeing racial bias Sanders, Warren battle for progressive endorsements 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.