Closing the Digital Divide

May 16, 2023

Access to reliable high-speed broadband services has become a necessary tool in today’s economy. Unfortunately, too many families and businesses in Eastern Washington still lack internet access as a result of outdated connectivity maps, a failure to allocate resources to truly unserved areas, or the destruction of critical infrastructure at the hands of a devastating wildfire.

Closing the digital divide has always been one of my top priorities. As Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I’m leading a comprehensive broadband permitting reform package to target resources to rural and unserved areas, remove barriers to deployment, streamline permitting processes, and unleash private investment. 

But it doesn’t stop there. Our legislation also makes sure the record amount of taxpayer money Congress recently authorized for broadband deployment does not go to waste by ensuring it is targeted to areas like rural Eastern Washington that need it most.

Most importantly, this broadband package was written with Eastern Washington in mind. It includes my Wildfire Wireless Resiliency Act, which would ensure projects to replace or improve wireless communications facilities damaged during a catastrophic wildfire on federal land are sped up, getting people back online as soon as possible. 

The good news is that we are making progress moving this package through the Energy and Commerce Committee, and I’m hopeful we can bring it to the floor for a vote soon.

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