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House Dems want to give cities the right to build broadband networks

House Dems want to give cities the right to build broadband networks
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A group of House Democrats introduced a bill on Thursday that would give local communities the right to build their own broadband networks and compete with established providers like Comcast and Verizon.

The group, led by Rep. Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooBiden can build on Pope Francis's visit to Iraq Biden convenes bipartisan meeting on cancer research House Democrats want to silence opposing views, not 'fake news' MORE (D-Calif.), say that protecting the right to build community broadband networks would help expand internet access to underserved communities and benefit consumers who already have access by promoting competition.

“Broadband Internet is the most vital tool of the 21st Century economy,” Eshoo said in a statement. “Unfortunately, millions of Americans are still acutely impacted by a complete lack of or an inferior broadband connection. The Community Broadband Act is an important step in bridging the digital divide and will help local governments enable connectivity, increase economic growth and create jobs.”

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Also sponsoring the bill are Reps. Mike DoyleMichael (Mike) F. DoyleHouse Democrats press Facebook on role as a 'breeding ground for polarization' Facebook, Google, Twitter CEOs to testify at House hearing on misinformation House panel to probe conspiracy theories in the news MORE (D-Pa.), Keith EllisonKeith EllisonOfficials: Barr blocked officer plea deal in George Floyd death The one question about climate change only the courts can answer Minnesota bar vows to stay open despite lawsuit, ban on indoor dining MORE (D-Minn.), Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaTexas power grid CEO fired in wake of massive storm outages How to create the next 10 great American tech clusters OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior reverses Trump policy that it says restricted science | Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination | Republicans press Biden environment nominee on Obama-era policy MORE (D-Calif.), Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), Mark PocanMark William PocanDemocrats cut deals to bolster support for relief bill Progressives grumble but won't sink relief bill over fewer stimulus checks Democrats don't trust GOP on 1/6 commission: 'These people are dangerous' MORE (D-Wis.) and Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisColorado Gov. Jared Polis engaged to longtime partner Marlon Reis Grocery store worker slapped after asking customer to wear mask, video shows Lobbying world MORE (D-Colo.). The Community Broadband Act would preempt states from passing laws that prohibit municipal broadband networks.

The bill has been pushed before, most recently by Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerABC names new deputy political director, weekend White House correspondent NJ lawmakers ask Gannett to stop 'union-busting' efforts at 3 state newspapers Hillicon Valley: High alert as new QAnon date approaches Thursday | Biden signals another reversal from Trump with national security guidance | Parler files a new case MORE (D-N.J.) last year. Eshoo last introduced the legislation in 2016. In both cases, the bills stalled in committee.

The latest iteration comes as both Democrats and Republicans in Congress are jockeying to make broadband expansion a major tenet of the White House’s promised $1 trillion infrastructure plan, which could be released as early as this month.

The idea has also regained momentum following the Federal Communications Commission’s decision last month to eliminate its net neutrality rules, a measure which forced internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally.

Still, Republicans are largely opposed to municipalities building out their own broadband offerings and have fought against local efforts in places like Chattanooga, Tenn.

Democrats insist that public networks would fill in the gaps the market has left behind.

“All too often, communities around the country struggle to get service from private providers, and where people can get service all too often it’s too slow and costs too much,” Doyle said in a statement. “Communities that build out their own broadband networks offer competitive options that not only bring service to the unserved, but also promote competition in underserved areas.”