February 06, 2017

Warner & Kaine Urge President Trump To Expand Broadband Access

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined a bipartisan group of 46 Senate colleagues urging President Trump to include broadband in any infrastructure initiative.

“A broad agenda to promote broadband access will empower Americans living in every community – from urban city centers to rural towns – with economic opportunities that will jumpstart growth in jobs and wages,” the Senators wrote in the letter. “That is why improving broadband access must be a priority in the 115th Congress and broadband must be part of any discussions regarding infrastructure investments to meet the demands of the 21st century economy. In addition, policies that reduce barriers to investment in communications infrastructure and streamline the deployment process will play a key role in expanding economic growth.”

The letter follows a January announcement of over $3 million in Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) funds.

Warner, a former technology entrepreneur, has long championed broadband technology as a proven job creator and economic stimulant. As Governor, Warner worked with federal, state, local and private-sector partners to leverage Virginia’s tobacco settlement dollars to invest in building out over 800 miles of fiber-optic broadband in Southwest and Southside, which helped to attract 2,200 jobs and $300 million of investment. In the Senate, he successfully amended the Farm Bill to provide new tools to extend high-speed Internet service to rural America, and he has pressed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to enact policies that encourage expanded wireless broadband deployment in underserved and unserved areas of the country, increase quality and service, and improve cost competition in rural and urban areas alike.

As Governor, Kaine created the Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance, which expands broadband access and work opportunities on broadband projects in rural areas, thereby helping increase economic activity. Governor Kaine also signed legislation establishing the Broadband Advisory Council, which recommends policy and funding priorities to expand broadband access in the Commonwealth. As a Senator, Kaine has advocated for federal investments from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help expand broadband access in Southwest Virginia.   

The full text of the letter and list of signatories is below:

Dear Mr. President:

As you work with Congress to address the infrastructure needs of our country, we urge you to prioritize policies as part of any infrastructure initiative that will promote deployment of high-speed, reliable broadband for all Americans. Expanding access to broadband, both rural and urban, is the infrastructure challenge of our generation and we cannot afford to wait to make progress on this important goal.

The internet has changed the way businesses reach their customers and workers do their jobs. From large companies that employ thousands to small businesses on Main Street, broadband access is not a luxury, it is a necessity. The internet expands opportunities for commerce and strengthens our economy. A broad agenda to promote broadband access will empower Americans living in every community – from urban city centers to rural towns – with economic opportunities that will jumpstart growth in jobs and wages. In fact, for every $5 billion invested in broadband infrastructure, 250,000 jobs are created and with every percentage point increase in new broadband distribution, employment expands by 300,000.

These benefits can only be fully realized when connections are fast, reliable, and affordable. That is why improving broadband access must be a priority in the 115th Congress and broadband must be part of any discussions regarding infrastructure investments to meet the demands of the 21st century economy. In addition, policies that reduce barriers to investment in communications infrastructure and streamline the deployment process will play a key role in expanding economic growth.

In order to maintain the United States’ position as a global leader for innovation, we must invest to expand our broadband infrastructure. This effort should include bringing broadband connections to locations where economic conditions or geography have made deployment difficult and improving the quality and affordability of existing broadband connections.

We look forward to working with you to expand broadband access to all Americans.

The letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Angus King (I-Maine), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Al Franken (D-Minn.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

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