Michael Guest

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Bill to Help Expand Rural Broadband Receives Overwhelming Bipartisan Support in House

 

Washington, D.C.  – A bill to remove barriers preventing rural communities from using Economic Development Authority (EDA) grants to expand access to high-speed broadband internet passed the House of Representatives today. The Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act bill was introduced by Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Sam Graves and Congressman Michael Guest.

“The E-BRIDGE Act would implement modern approaches to economic development and create new opportunities for individuals to work, attend school, socialize, and access healthcare in every corner of our country,” said Guest.  “This legislation is a strong step towards meeting the goal of ending the digital divide and delivering broadband to every American community.”

By removing barriers preventing the use of EDA grants to investments in broadband in rural communities, the E-BRIDGE Act would expand access to high-speed internet in rural and underserved communities, which is a necessary component in modern economic development strategies. This bill would help attract new businesses and support existing ones while connecting rural America to the world.

Congressman Guest spoke on the floor in support of the bill. The text of the speech as prepared is below:

Thank you, Ranking Member Graves, for your leadership on this important piece of legislation that would eliminate hurdles and leverage Economic Development Agency dollars to invest in broadband deployment across America’s communities. By utilizing public-private partnerships and consortia between Internet Service Providers and economic development agencies, EDA dollars could be leveraged to deploy broadband and spur modern economic development for rural and economically distressed communities.

 

Many of these consortia exist within the private sector, including many large corporations working to deploy broadband across vast, rural areas. However, EDA funds have been held back from small towns and communities working to attract private investment in their communities. The E-BRIDGE Act would directly respond to the needs of these communities and provide flexibilities to leverage in-kind services and other federal resources.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the necessity of internet in our lives and the need to close the digital divide that exists between rural and urban areas. This bill is supported by the App Association, American Farm Bureau, and the National Association of Development Organizations.

 

I appreciate the Chairman and Ranking Member for bringing this legislation to the floor and urge my colleagues to support it.

Click here for the text of the E-BRIDGE Act.

Click here to read a previous press release on the bill.

 

MageeNews.com is an online news source serving Simpson and surrounding counties as well as the State of Mississippi.

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