Congress Passes Rural Broadband Infrastructure Funding
The bipartisan temporary budget deal lawmakers wrangled over until the early hours of Friday morning includes $20 billion in infrastructure spending, including rural broadband. That breaks down to $10 billion for FY18 and $10 billion for FY19 – to invest in infrastructure, including programs related to rural broadband, rural water and wastewater, clean and safe drinking water, energy, innovative capital projects, and surface transportation.
“This is an important step forward to help bridge the digital divide and connect the hardest to reach areas,” said USTelecom President/CEO Jonathan Spalter. Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) said the agreement “marks an important step forward” on several priorities the committee has championed for many months.
Passage was rocky in both houses of Congress. Late Thursday evening, the White House instructed federal agencies to prepare for a possible partial federal government shutdown. The Senate cleared the measure after 1 a.m. Friday morning. The House voted on the measure at around 5:30 a.m. and the President signed it into law before 9 a.m. The government partially shutdown for about five hours overnight, but reopened Friday morning.
The bill will fund the government until March 23, giving lawmakers time to write a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending measure that will fund federal agencies until September 30.