Now that Congress has passed President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package, which he intends to sign into law next week, eyes turn to his spending bill. The nearly $2 trillion “Build Back Better” (BBB) measure contains millions of dollars earmarked for broadband connectivity.
Democrats’ spending package presently includes $300 million for the Emergency Connectivity Fund, an FCC pandemic relief program to help expand broadband access for students, library patrons and school staff, as well as $100 million for the FCC to promote its broadband affordability programs, according to Politico.
It sets up several Commerce Department programs, such as a $280 million pilot to improve broadband in cities and a $475 million program to help consumers purchase devices such as computers and tablets. It also allocates $7 million to establish a “Future of Telecommunications Council” to advise Congress on 6G.
Lawmakers return from the House and Senate recess to Capitol Hill next week. That’s when House Democrats and the White House are hoping to vote on the spending measure. House Democrats are waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to release its analysis of the spending package and have said they will vote for it as long as the numbers match White House estimates, reports Politico.
If it passes the House, BBB will still face more negotiation in the Senate, where opposition from moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) has stalled the process.
The additional wave of broadband funding would build upon the $65 billion included in the infrastructure deal.