WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today joined eight Committee colleagues in a letter urging Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to move any broadband-related provisions through the committee process while developing bipartisan infrastructure legislation.
“Over the past year, billions of dollars have been appropriated to multiple agencies to expand broadband access across the country. Although no formal accounting has been conducted to evaluate how or where that money has been spent, efforts are underway to spend billions more on broadband,” the Members wrote.
Members who joined Wicker in the letter include Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., and Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.
Wicker has expressed the importance for agencies to account for the disbursement of funds before billions more is spent on broadband in another legislative vehicle. Wicker urged the Department of the Treasury to coordinate efforts with the other federal agencies supporting broadband deployment to make sure funding is not going to areas that already have broadband service or where existing funding is pending. Last month, Wicker sent letters to the Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Treasury requesting the agencies to report on the disbursement of funds received for broadband deployment.
This letter is part of ongoing efforts to ensure broadband resources are spent prudently and avoid the mistakes of past stimulus efforts that ultimately led to significant waste, overbuilding, and millions of Americans still left unconnected.
Click here or read full letter below:
Dear Leader Schumer:
We write to urge you to work through regular order to advance broadband-related provisions in any bipartisan infrastructure legislation. While we appreciate the ongoing efforts by our colleagues to expand broadband access, advancing broadband legislative proposals through the committee of jurisdiction, with subject matter expertise, is critical to ensuring that resources are appropriately targeted to communities in need, and any new broadband programs are implemented with the proper oversight and avoid wasting taxpayer dollars.
Over the past year, billions of dollars have been appropriated to multiple agencies to expand broadband access across the country. Although no formal accounting has been conducted to evaluate how or where that money has been spent, efforts are underway to spend billions more on broadband.
We recognize the importance of expanding high-speed and reliable internet access to all Americans and closing the digital divide. We also support allocating necessary resources to expert federal agencies to achieve that objective. Yet, we fear that rushed legislative efforts that bypass the committee’s deliberative process and technical analysis will ultimately repeat the failures of past broadband programs. These failures included rampant overbuilding, duplication of existing private and public sector investments, unfinished projects, and millions of unconnected Americans.
To avoid another missed opportunity, we urge you to move broadband legislation through the committee process for consideration. This is a vital step to developing a legislative product that will actually deliver broadband services to every American, promote continued competition and investment in the broadband industry, and increase digital opportunity for all.