WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted largely along party lines to pass the Moving Forward Act, a $1.5-trillion transportation, energy and broadband-infrastructure bill.
The broadband provisions come from the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act, introduced last week by Rep. James Clyburn (D–South Carolina) in coordination with the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders.
The bill now moves to the Senate, which has yet to take up the HEROES Act that passed the House in May with similar broadband-affordability measures. But the Republican-controlled Senate has indicated some willingness to consider broadband infrastructure, COVID relief and related legislative initiatives when it returns to Washington on July 20.
Free Press Action Vice President of Policy and General Counsel Matt Wood made the following statement:
“The past few months of this pandemic, and the past weeks of protest and progress, have reminded us that our nation’s infrastructure is out of date and out of reach for millions. Broadband, like other essential services, is inequitably distributed and unaffordable for a significant portion of our population.
“The digital divide disproportionately impacts Black and Brown people, poorer communities and other groups hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. The systemic racism and economic inequities woven into that digital divide call for comprehensive solutions. The Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act, passed in the House as part of the Moving Forward package, is a milestone on the long road to addressing the policy failures that put us here.
“While the party-line vote on the full bill is a fact of our current politics, no one should make the mistake of thinking the broadband provisions are partisan. People in cities and rural areas alike need better broadband at better prices, no matter their party or politics. The Moving Forward Act recognizes and addresses the needs of communities most often left out of congressional debates on communications policy.
“Free Press Action looks to the Senate next, and will continue to work with members on both sides of the aisle to make these kinds of smart public investments in broadband affordability and choice the law of the land.”