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Coronavirus Roundup: House Passes HEROES Act, USDA Investment in Iowa, Pai Discourages T-Band Auction

David Jelke

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Photo of Sec. Sonny Perdue by USDA used with permission

The House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, a coronavirus response bill, with a bipartisan 208 to 199 vote Friday.

The $3 trillion legislation invests in testing, tracing and treatment, provides strong support for workers on the front lines with funding for state and local governments and hazard pay, and puts more money directly in the pockets of workers and families.

“The Heroes Act is the bold step we need to ensure our nation meets the challenge of the pandemic and the ensuing economic recession,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y.

“Critically, this legislation delivers robust funding to keep our frontline heroes paid and working for the American people, to execute a nationwide testing and contact tracing strategy, and to alleviate the economic pain of lockdowns and stay-at-home orders,” she said.

USDA Funds $500,000 for high-speed broadband in rural Iowa

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced on Friday that USDA is investing more than $500,000 to provide broadband service in unserved and underserved rural areas in Iowa. This investment is part of USDA’s round one investments through the ReConnect Pilot Program.

“The need for rural broadband has never been more apparent than it is now — as our nation manages the coronavirus national emergency,” Purdue said. “Access to telehealth services, remote learning for school children, and remote business operations all require access to broadband.”

In rural Iowa, Breda Telephone Corp. will use the $523,749 grant to deploy a fiber-to-the home network to connect 113 people, 20 farms and 9 businesses in Arcadia, Iowa, in Carroll County to broadband e-Connectivity.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai reiterates call for repeal of T-Band auction mandate

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Friday reiterated his call for Congressional repeal of the T-band auction mandate, a requirement of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, also called the Spectrum Act.

Earlier in the day, the agency issued a notice suspending the processing of applications for T-band licenses in accordance with the mandate.

“An FCC auction of the T-band is a bad idea,” Pai said. “But as of today, the law mandates that we do it. It’s unfortunate that Commission resources must be dedicated to laying the groundwork for an auction that will likely fail. This is especially true at a time when we are making every effort to keep Americans safe and connected, including allowing expanded temporary use of this very spectrum to help first responders save lives.”

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