Walden, Latta lead GOP committee members in releasing broadband infrastructure package

U.S. Reps. Greg Walden (R-OR) and Bob Latta (R-OH) on June 25 led Republicans on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee in releasing a broadband infrastructure package of 26 bills that aims to close America’s digital divide.

“We must do all that we can to expand access to broadband, bridge the digital divide, and close the homework gap,” Reps. Walden and Latta said in a joint statement released by the committee on June 25. “We are proud to lead this effort to encourage U.S. leadership and ensure Americans across local communities can access these vital services, and we thank our colleagues for partnering with us on this important agenda.”

Rep. Walden is ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce (E&C) Committee, and Rep. Latta is ranking member of the House E&C Communications and Technology Subcommittee.

The various bills are contained in one 161-page bill entitled the Winning the International Race for Economic Leadership and Expanding Service to Support (WIRELESS) Leadership Act, H.R. 7362, introduced on June 25 by Rep. Latta.

If enacted, H.R. 7362 would amend the Communications Act of 1934 to streamline siting processes for personal wireless service facilities, including small personal wireless service facilities, among numerous other provisions, according to the text of the bill.

Collectively, the 26 bills would promote new and upgraded infrastructure deployments; incentivize competition and consumer choice; improve regulations for building infrastructure across industries; and facilitate broadband deployment on federal lands, among other goals, according to a bill summary provided by the E&C Committee.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that the Internet is more than just a helpful tool — it’s a lifeline to help Americans access health care, earn a living, receive an education, and more,” said Reps. Walden and Latta. “All Americans, whether living in rural or urban communities, should have the opportunity to reap the benefits of staying connected, particularly when considering the economic advantage of reliable connectivity.”