Cheyenne, OK – Recently, Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) cosponsored the Broadband for Rural America Act. Introduced by House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Glenn Thompson (PA-15) and other House Agriculture Committee Republicans, the Broadband for Rural America Act would help bridge the digital divide for communities across the nation by providing more than $7 billion in authorizations for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) broadband connectivity programs, including the Broadband ReConnect Loan and Grant Program.
“Access to affordable, high-speed internet is essential for families, businesses owners, and communities in today’s 21st society. Unfortunately, rural communities often face challenges as broadband infrastructure is measured by the miles between customers compared to urban communities who measure broadband by the customers between miles,” said Congressman Lucas. “The Broadband for Rural America Act provides important investments to USDA broadband programs which will in turn provide critical modern infrastructure to countless rural communities. I’m proud to support this important piece of legislation and look forward to continuing to be a supporter and advocate for expanding broadband to rural families and communities across Oklahoma.”
The Broadband for Rural America Act:
- Authorizes $3.7 billion per year for critical rural broadband programs, including the ReConnect Rural Broadband Program, the Middle Mile Broadband Program, and the Innovative Broadband Advancement Program
- Targets limited resources so assistance is focused on the most rural and least-connected residents, which are often the most expensive to connect
- Promotes borrower accountability and protects taxpayers with new tools to ensure promised services are delivered to rural communities
“The one issue that unites rural members on both sides of the aisle is the need to address the digital divide. This critical infrastructure void has been exacerbated by the challenges faced by rural families and businesses during the pandemic,” said Ranking Member Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson. “There are many broadband infrastructure plans, but the House GOP package puts a detailed plan on paper. This is also the only proposal that utilizes the expertise of USDA and focuses agencies across the government towards one common goal: connecting all Americans. “Let’s put aside partisan differences, debate the merits of this legislation, and address this significant infrastructure need.”
Lucas has long supported bridging the digital divide, increasing access to broadband for those who call rural Oklahoma home.
In an interview with KOCO News 5 this past February, Lucas stressed the importance of rural Oklahomans having the same access to the same resources as those who live in Oklahoma’s cities and suburbs.
USDA has invested $1,321,116,859 in high-speed broadband infrastructure projects through the Broadband ReConnect Program, including $107,501,570 in Oklahoma.
Read a summary of the legislation here.
Read the legislation in its entirety here.
Read a section-by-section of the legislation here.