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Industry Groups and Non Profit Advocates Offer Encouraging Words about House Energy and Commerce Broadband Measure

Drew Clark

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BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: Telecommunications industry and advocacy organizations on Wednesday and Thursday reacted to the introduction of the LIFT America Act, H.R. 2741, which stands for Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow's America Act, by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, R-N.J. The measure includes $40 billion, over five years, to deploy broadband. A hearing on the measure is scheduled for May 22.

Of the measure, US Telecom CEO Jonathan Spalter said, "we need a massive national commitment to improve American infrastructure right now. This includes smart and substantial direct funding mechanisms that allow for faster and more widespread broadband deployment everywhere."

NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, was more measured in its praise, saying that it "welcomed" the LIFT Act's "goal of improving our national infrastructure through programs specifically targeted at extending high-speed broadband networks to those communities that are not yet connected. In particular, we appreciate the legislation’s reliance on reverse auctions as an efficient and technologically neutral means of distributing support and its attention to significant disparities in rates for pole attachments that thwart deployment and fair competition.”

Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition Executive Director John Windhausen said it was positive that the LIFT America Act "granted [anchor institutions'] eligibility for the Broadband Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Program" because of their need for high-capacity bandwidth for education and telehealth services. He added, "The SHLB Coalition would like to work with Congress to give local communities a role in selecting the most appropriate broadband provider. We also hope to avoid using the flawed 477-based maps when identifying unserved and underserved areas, and suggest that the bill accommodate broadband availability information gathered from consumers."

The Pallone press release follows:

ENERGY & COMMERCE DEMOCRATS INTRODUCE INFRASTRUCTURE PACKAGE AIMED AT COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE, EXPANDING BROADBAND ACCESS & PROTECTING PUBLIC HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT, from Rep. Frank Pallone:

All 31 Democratic members of the Energy and Commerce Committee today introduced a sweeping infrastructure package, the Leading Infrastructure For Tomorrow’s America Act, or LIFT America Act, that will rebuild America through investments in combating climate change, expanding broadband access and protecting public health and the environment.

Full Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. also announced that the Full Committee will hold a hearing on the bill on Wednesday, May 22, at 10 am in the John D. Dingell Room, 2123 Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “LIFT America: Modernizing Our Infrastructure for the Future.”

“We cannot wait any longer to act on climate or to modernize our nation’s aging infrastructure. The LIFT America Act makes significant investments in rebuilding our country and takes an important step in combating the climate crisis by moving us towards a clean energy future and reducing our carbon emissions,” said Pallone. “This legislation will strengthen our economy for the future by creating good paying jobs, making critical investments in our nation’s broadband network, and bringing critical improvements to our drinking water and health care infrastructure.”

The LIFT America Act includes investments in several key areas, including:

Action to Combat the Climate Crisis and Protect Our Environment:

  • Over $33 billion for clean energy, including $4 billion to upgrade the U.S. electric grid to accommodate more renewable energy and make it more resilient. It also includes $4 billion for the expansion of renewable energy use, including $2.25 billion for the installation of solar panels in low-income and underserved communities. LIFT America also includes $23 billion for energy efficiency efforts – namely retrofitting and weatherizing buildings, including schools and homes, to ensure they produce fewer carbon emissions – and funding the nationwide deployment of more clean energy fuels.
  • $2.7 billion to spur the development of Smart Communities, including $850 million in technical assistance to help cities and counties integrate clean energy into their redevelopment efforts, and $1.4 billion to support the development of an electric vehicle (EV) charging network.
  • More than $21 billion to protect Americans’ drinking water, including $2.5 billion to establish a new grant program allowing PFAS-affected communities to filter the toxic chemicals out of their water supplies. LIFT America also expands upon the passage of the 2017 Safe Drinking Water Act by extending and increasing authorization for the State Revolving Loan Fund, and other safe water programs.
  • $2.7 billion for Brownfields redevelopment to revitalize communities and create jobs by returning valuable land to productive use.

Expanding Access to Broadband Internet:

  • $40 billion for the deployment of secure and resilient high-speed broadband internet service to expand access for communities nationwide and bring broadband to 98 percent of the country.
  • $12 billion in grants for the implementation of Next Generation 9-1-1 services to make 9-1-1 service more accessible, effective, and resilient, and enable Americans to send text messages, images, or videos to 9-1-1 in times of emergency.
  • $5 billion in federal funding for low-interest financing of broadband infrastructure deployment through a new program that would allow eligible entities to apply for secured loans, lines of credit, or loan guarantees to finance broadband infrastructure build out projects.

Investing in America’s Health Infrastructure:

  • $2 billion in funding to reauthorize the Hill-Burton hospital infrastructure program, including targeted assistance to support cybersecurity in the health system.
  • $1 billion for Indian Health Service infrastructure projects to reduce health disparities in Indian Country.
  • $100 million to support state labs on the frontlines of fighting infectious diseases.
  • $100 million to establish a community-based care infrastructure program and to develop teaching health centers and mental health care centers.
  • $3.5 billion to improve public health infrastructure at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and at state, local, tribal and territorial health departments.

The LIFT America Act is sponsored by Energy and Commerce Committee members Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Kathy Castor (D-FL), John Sarbanes (D-MD), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Scott Peters (D-CA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Annie Kuster (D-NH), Robin Kelly (D-IL), Nanette Barragán (D-CA), Donald McEachin (D-VA), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Darren Soto (D-FL) and Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ).

A section-by-section of the bill is available HERE, and the text of the bill is available HERE.

Source: E&C Democrats Introduce Infrastructure Package Aimed at Combating Climate Change, Expanding Broadband Access & Protecting Public Health and the Environment | Democrats, Energy and Commerce Committee

(Photo of Chairman Pallone from his web site.)

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