House committee advances Graves’ rural internet development bill

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on July 28 approved legislation led by U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) that would authorize the U.S. Department of Commerce to award economic development grants for public-private partnerships and certain consortiums to carry out broadband projects.

“This is a big step forward for Missourians without access to reliable high-speed broadband internet,” said Rep. Graves, ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “I’m grateful my colleagues on both sides of the aisle came together to get this common sense legislation passed out of committee.”

The Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act, H.R. 3193, which Rep. Graves sponsored on May 13 with original cosponsor U.S. Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS), passed the committee with bipartisan support and now heads to the full chamber for further consideration.  

“The E-BRIDGE Act breaks down barriers in existing federal grant programs to unlock more funding to get last-mile internet infrastructure projects completed,” said Rep. Graves. “It doesn’t matter how old you are or where you live, Americans of all walks of life use the internet for everything from precision agriculture, to telemedicine, to school work. It’s critical that we get folks plugged in.”

If enacted, H.R. 3193 would ensure that local communities can partner with the private sector in carrying out broadband projects and would give communities more flexibility in complying with their funding match requirements, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Graves’ office.

The bill is supported by NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of Development Organizations, and ACT | The App Association.