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House Democrats want $ 5.5 billion for pandemic broadband funding

On Tuesday, House Democrats unveiled their latest anti-coronavirus bill, including a series of measures to keep families and businesses online during the pandemic.

“With schools closed and millions of people out of work, Congress needs to use its resources to keep Americans connected,” said Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) MPs in one common explanation. “We hope that this legislation will have strong cross-party support so that we can help children and families struggling during this pandemic.”

The over 1,800-page HEROES Act would strengthen the healthcare system and economy with additional funds of $ 3 trillion, of which around $ 5.5 billion will serve to close the digital divide at least until the end of the pandemic shut down. If approved, the bill would “immediately”

; provide $ 1.5 billion through the Federal Communication Commission’s e-rate program for schools and libraries to purchase hotspots and “connected devices” to provide distance learning for the duration to facilitate the emergency.

In addition, the incentive would create a $ 4 billion pool to grant low-income families or laid-off and vacationed workers up to $ 50 a month to pay their Internet service bills until the pandemic ends can.

“The house bill shows what most Americans have known for months – that every American must have access to robust broadband internet during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gigi Sohn, a former FCC consultant, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The house is expected to approve the bill on Friday, but the measure faces a tough battle in the Republican-led Senate for final approval. In previous interviews, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that infrastructure such as broadband “is not related to the coronavirus pandemic” and should not be included in future coronavirus aid packages.

In addition to funding broadband connectivity projects, the HEROES Act would make it illegal for telecommunications and voice service providers to stop serving customers who are unable to pay their bills due to the pandemic.

When social distancing regulations were passed nationwide in March, schools and businesses were closed to curb the spread of disease. For this reason, students and employees are now more than ever dependent on the Internet. Access to basic distance education and health services is becoming increasingly difficult for families with unreliable Internet connections.

In order to curb the spread of diseases, schools and companies have stopped or postponed their activities online. For this reason, families and companies without a broadband connection cannot attend school or work at home.

“Regardless of what Congress, the FCC and ISPs have already done, the country needs federal spending to replace lost income and keep society functioning,” said Matt Wood, vice president of politics and general counsel at Free Press Action, in a statement on Tuesday.

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