Broadband Money Preserved in COVID Relief Bill

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The House is expected to take up President Joe Biden’s nearly $2 trillion coronavirus relief package today. Changes the Senate made over the weekend must be reconciled.

Broadband leaders and tech industry groups cheered the funding increase for broadband, Politico noted. 

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), called increasing internet access, “a necessity, not a luxury” during the pandemic. “The $17 billion we secured to help expand broadband infrastructure and affordability represents the largest-ever federal investment of its kind and will be a significant boost to our economy as we work to rebuild and recover from COVID-19,” he said in a statement. 

The legislation includes ways to help connect schools and libraries. More than $7 billion for the E-Rate program supporting online learning also made it into the legislation.

The legislation also includes investments in the Technology Modernization Fund, established by Congress to put money behind efforts to bring the federal government’s tech tools and IT infrastructure up to date. That has become even more urgent during the pandemic with the increase of remote work amid rising cybersecurity threats. Information Technology Industry Council President Jason Oxman called the investments “an important down payment.”

The House could pass the bill today; if so, the President is expected to sign it this week, according to CNBC.

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