A group of agriculture-state lawmakers introduced the Connect Unserved Americans Act this week. The bipartisan legislation seeks to ensure the Department of Agriculture targets funding through the ReConnect Program to areas most in need of reliable broadband services. Additionally, it would enhance the coordination between federal agencies disbursing broadband funding to prevent the overbuilding of existing broadband networks at the taxpayer’s expense. South Dakota Republican John Thune, one of the lawmakers who introduced the legislation, says, “Our bipartisan legislation would help bridge the digital divide by ensuring federal broadband funding goes to truly unserved areas.” In October 2021, Thune and Minnesota Democrat Tina Smith co-led a bipartisan letter urging Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to continue to grant awards to areas where there is a higher percentage of unserved households. The lawmakers also asked Vilsack to increase USDA’s coordination efforts with other agencies administering broadband programs, and give equal treatment to all applicants.
Bipartisan Legislation to Increase Access to Rural Broadband