Senate-Passed Version of Farm Bill Includes Leahy Amendment Promoting Gigabit Broadband in Rural AreasCongress, Gigabit Networks, Senate June 17th, 2013
Josh Evans, Reporter, Broadband Census News
WASHINGTON, June 17, 2013 – With Senate passage of the final version of the farm bill on June 10, the debate turns to the House’s schedule for consideration of and potential passage of the measure.
The final text of the bill as passed the Senate is available here.
From the perspective of broadband deployment, several amendments included in the Senate version of the bill have continued to attract attention in the broadband world.
As reported previously, an amendment by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, would push for investment in establishing gigabit broadband networks, which are approximately one hundred times faster than the average internet connection, in up to five rural communities.
The Leahy amendment will not require new funding but will instead utilize funding that has already been allocated to the Rural Utilities Service. The RUS will invest in network infrastructure development in the form of both grants and loans.
Leahy said that high-speed internet is crucial in keeping rural areas economically competitive and reviving areas that are struggling.
“Rural America has so much to offer, but without the great equalizer of high-speed Internet, rural communities cannot live up to their full potential,” he said.
The Leahy amendment was approved shortly before the bill itself was passed by the Senate.