Biden, top Democrats lay groundwork for multibillion dollar push to boost US broadband

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President-elect Joe Biden and top congressional Democrats are laying the groundwork to seek a massive increase in federal broadband spending in 2021, hoping they can secure billions of dollars in new government aid to improve Internet access and affordability — and help people stay online during the pandemic. Party leaders are mulling a wide array of proposals that would extend the availability of broadband in hard-to-reach rural areas, raise Internet speeds for American households, assist families who are struggling to pay their Internet bills and provide more funding to schools for computers and other equipment. Many Democrats say they are bullish about their prospects, believing they can shepherd a series of record-breaking investments at a time when the resurgent coronavirus is forcing Americans to work and learn from home again. Their first major opportunity could come as part of a new coronavirus stimulus package, a top priority for Biden as he prepares to enter the White House in January. The president-elect previously endorsed a House-passed relief bill that includes $4 billion in emergency funds to help low-income Americans stay online in a pandemic that has left tens of millions out of work and strapped for cash. Biden also reaffirmed his commitment to universal broadband on Tuesday as part of a broader preview of his economic-recovery agenda.

Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), a top Biden ally who led a broadband task force, said he “absolutely” expected the president-elect to move aggressively on the issue within his first 100 days in office. He acknowledged this week that lawmakers “still expect to get some opposition from Republicans” on additional spending, but he expressed optimism that the inequalities brought to light by the worsening coronavirus pandemic might spur Congress to act.

Biden, top Democrats lay groundwork for multibillion dollar push to boost U.S. broadband Lawmakers Set to Give Infrastructure a Fresh Look in 2021 (WSJ)