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) TesterBipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor GOP blocks infrastructure debate as negotiators near deal GOP negotiators say they'll vote to start infrastructure debate next week 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go toward funding private and public infrastructure projects, mapping internet access across the country, upgrading outdated internet capabilities and building out public safety infrastructure.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 StabenowSchumer: Democrats considering option to pay for all of infrastructure agenda Democrats closing in on deal to unlock massive infrastructure bill Senate plants a seed for bipartisan climate solutions MORE (D-Mich.), Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Energy: Senate panel advances controversial public lands nominee | Nevada Democrat introduces bill requiring feds to develop fire management plan | NJ requiring public water systems to replace lead pipes in 10 years Transit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal Senate panel advances controversial public lands nominee in tie vote MORE (D-W.Va.), Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyEquilibrium/ Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — Olympics medals made of mashed up smartphones Lawmakers urge Biden to make 'bold decisions' in nuclear review OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats lay out vision for Civilian Climate Corps | Manchin to back controversial public lands nominee | White House details environmental justice plan MORE (D-Mass.) and Tester, along with Reps. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosRockford mayor decides against 2022 run for Bustos's House seat Advocacy groups urge Pelosi, Schumer to keep Pentagon funding out of infrastructure bills Nearly 70 House lawmakers ask leadership to reimburse National Guard for Jan. 6 response MORE (D-Ill.), Terri SewellTerrycina (Terri) Andrea SewellDemocratic tensions simmer in House between left, center Alabama museum unveils restored Greyhound bus for Freedom Rides' 60th anniversary Rep. Terri Sewell declines to run for Senate in Alabama 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.