E-BRIDGE Act introduced by Graves to advance high-speed broadband projects

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) recently sponsored the Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act to spur broadband projects in America’s rural areas.

“Over the last year, Americans have had to work, go to school, buy food and supplies, and receive critical medical care all without leaving their homes,” said Rep. Graves, ranking member of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “The one thing that has made this feasible for many is high-speed broadband. Unfortunately, too many of our communities, particularly in rural America, still lack broadband access.”  

If enacted, H.R. 3193 would amend the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 to provide for a high-speed broadband deployment initiative, according to the congressional record bill summary.

H.R. 3193 would eliminate barriers for communities seeking to use Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants to develop high-speed broadband access, including difficult last-mile efforts that often delay rural broadband deployment.  

“In some cases, just completing that last mile is what stands in the way of connecting people to a job or the services they need,” Rep. Graves said. “The E-BRIDGE Act bill will help spur projects that get our rural and poor communities online, for better preparing them for medical emergencies such as the current pandemic and for attracting jobs and business for future economic development.”

Among several provisions, H.R. 3193 would remove barriers to investments in broadband in distressed communities, making them eligible for EDA grants; clarify that eligible recipients may include public-private partnerships and consortiums to leverage private-sector expertise in project development; and clarify that funds may be combined with other federal resources, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Graves’ staff.