Senate Democrats Call on FCC Chairman to Expeditiously Address the Digital Divide in Indian Country
Sen Tom Udall (D-NM), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, led a group of 14 Senate Democrats in calling on the Federal Communications Commission to expedite broadband connectivity to Native communities to improve access to critical services during the pandemic including telemedicine, online education, and teleworking opportunities. Sen Udall was joined by Sens Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tina Smith (D-MN), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Jon Tester (D-MT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jeffrey Merkley (D-OR) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) in the letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, calling on the FCC to use existing authorities to ensure universal service for all Americans including those living in Native communities.
“The federal trust responsibility imposes on the United States the highest moral and legal obligation toward American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities, as reflected in the Constitution of the United States, treaties, federal statues, Executive orders, and numerous court decisions. It is one of the most important principles of federal Indian law, strengthening the United States’ government-to-government relationship with Indian tribes and promoting Tribal sovereignty and self-determination. The Commission has long recognized the unique government-to-government relationship between the federal government and Tribal governments, and that it requires the federal government to adhere to certain fiduciary standards in dealing with Indian Tribes. The failure to take action to provide essential broadband service in the midst of the COVID-19 calls into question the Commission’s adherence to the federal trust responsibility."
Udall, Senate Democrats Call on FCC Chairman to Expeditiously Address the Digital Divide in Indian Country