House Passes Webster Bill that Eliminates Barriers to Rural Internet Development
Washington, DC – Today. the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3193, the E-Bridge Act, co-sponsored by Florida Congressman Daniel Webster, R-Clermont, with broad bipartisan support. This bill removes hurdles for broadband projects under Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants, including difficult last-mile efforts that often delay rural broadband deployment.
"We know broadband impacts the ability of distressed communities to attract jobs and businesses across a host of other industries, including the healthcare and energy sectors," said Congressman Webster. "I thank my House colleagues for their support for this commonsense bill, which removes unnecessary hurdles and helps more Americans get connected. I want to make sure that efforts to achieve this goal do not harm existing rural broadband providers which are often small businesses themselves that have spent capital and time trying to reach these communities - often in creative ways. I encourage our colleagues in the U.S. Senate to pass H.R. 3193 in a timely manner."
H.R. 3193 also ensures that local communities can partner with the private sector in carrying out broadband projects and gives communities more flexibility in complying with their funding match requirements. By helping to increase the reach of broadband to rural and economically distressed communities, the E-BRIDGE Act will help:
- Attract new businesses and support current businesses in distressed regions of the country,
- Strengthen healthcare systems and delivery of medical care to vulnerable populations,
- Lay the groundwork for economic recovery in these areas, and
- Better prepare these communities for future disasters or epidemics.