WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a leader on the Appropriations Committee, today highlighted the measures included in the recently passed spending bills to support enhanced broadband access, especially in rural areas such as West Virginia. President Donald Trump signed the FY20 funding bills on December 20, 2019.
Numerous government agencies play a role in broadband deployment, including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Whether it is providing funds for expanded capabilities, accurate mapping, or improved regulatory policies, the scope of this challenge spans several federal agencies.
“Since my first day in the U.S. Senate, I have been committed to improving and expanding broadband access in West Virginia,” Senator Capito said. “At my urging, several aspects of these funding bills reflect the goals of my Capito Connect plan, whether through providing funds for expanding access in local communities to improved mapping capabilities and measurements. I was proud to secure these important funds that will go a long way in furthering our efforts to better connect West Virginia, and I will continue to work for these important initiatives on behalf of all of our rural communities throughout the state.”
Measures supporting efforts to enhance broadband access included in each Appropriations Package are included below:
FY2020 CONSOLIDATED NATIONAL SECURITY APPROPRIATIONS PACKAGE
- In the Commerce, Science, and Justice Division, language is included directing the NTIA to report their current and planned efforts to improve accuracy of measurements of broadband coverage.
- In the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) division, the FCC is funded at $339 million, along with encouragement for the commission to coordinate efforts with the Rural Utility Service to promote broadband in rural America.
FY2020 CONSOLIDATED DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE PACKAGE
- In the Agriculture division, $550 million is provided for the ReConnect Pilot program, an initiative Senator Capito has fought for and directly communicated with Secretary Purdue to urge further expansion in West Virginia. Additionally $50 million is included for Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants and $35 million for the Community Connect program.
- In the Energy and Water Development division, under the ARC, $10 million is provided to continue high-speed broadband deployment in economically distressed counties on central Appalachia due to the downturn in the coal industry.
- In the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs division, funding for telehealth services in rural areas was increased by $30 million with further direction to increase awareness and accessibility of the service.
- In the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development division, $3.4 billion was appropriated for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, an integral resource for the success of many West Virginia cities. Senator Capito was a leader in enabling CDBG funds to be used for broadband deployment.