Senators Introduce Major Bipartisan Legislation to Close Digital Divide, Promote Digital Equity

Coverage Type: 

Sens Patty Murray (D-WA), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Angus King (I-ME) introduced new bipartisan legislation aimed at closing the growing digital divide in communities across the country. The Digital Equity Act of 2021 (S.2018) would create new federal investments targeted toward a diverse array of projects at the state and local level. It strengthens federal support for efforts to help ensure students, families, and workers have the information technology capacity needed to fully participate in society by establishing grant and policy programs to be administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to promote digital equity nationwide:

  • Building Capacity within States through Formula Grants: The legislation creates an annual $125 million formula grant program for all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to fund the creation and implementation of comprehensive digital equity plans in each State.
  • Spurring Targeted Action through Competitive Grants: The legislation also creates an annual $125 million competitive grant program to support digital equity projects undertaken by individual groups, coalitions, and/or communities of interest.
  • Supporting Research and Evidence-Based Policymaking: The legislation tasks NTIA with evaluating digital inclusion projects and providing policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels with detailed information about which projects are most effective.

The Digital Equity Act was first introduced in 2019 to help improve broadband adoption and bridge the digital divide. Senators Murray, Portman, and King will be advocating for key provisions of the proposed legislation to be included in any forthcoming infrastructure package.

Senators Murray, Portman, and King Introduce Major Bipartisan Legislation to Close Digital Divide, Promote Digital Equity