Graves unveils bill to improve access to federal grants for rural broadband deployment

by Ripon Advance News Service

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) on April 14 introduced legislation to ensure rural and low-income communities can more readily use Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants to develop high-speed broadband services.

“This bill will help spur projects under EDA programs to give rural and poor communities more online access to medical care, schools, the workplace, food, and other essential services,” Rep. Graves said. “Looking beyond the nation’s current health emergency and towards our economic recovery, providing more avenues to develop broadband will also help these communities attract more jobs and business.”

Rep. Graves sponsored the Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act, H.R. 6491, with lead original cosponsor U.S. Rep. John Katko (R-NY) to 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.

If enacted, the bill would reduce barriers for broadband projects under EDA grants, such as difficult last-mile efforts that often delay rural broadband deployment, according to Rep. Graves’ office.

“With north Missourians currently being asked to stay home due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the necessity of access to broadband service is more clear than ever,” said Rep. Graves. “Completing the ‘last mile,’ in particular, is critical to ensuring that rural Americans are able to access high-speed internet.”

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