As Tennessee voters head to the polls, Senate candidate Phil Bredesen (D) is taking aim at Rep Marsha Blackburn’s legacy on broadband. In a recent campaign ad, former-Gov Bredesen calls out the House Telecommunications Subcommittee chair for having “voted against $600 million in broadband initiatives.” At issue: Blackburn’s March 2018 vote against the sprawling omnibus government funding bill that contained a series of committee-negotiated tech legislation central to Blackburn’s panel.
Congress is angling to impose some training wheels on the Trump administration when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars on broadband deployment. Lawmakers are eyeing the reconciliation process for the farm bill as a way to check the Agriculture Department, which manages various telecom subsidies through its Rural Utilities Service (RUS). “Appropriate guidance in the farm bill being reconciled and the department’s continued vigilance are critical to avoiding another boondoggle,” said a Senate GOP aide, referring to past alleged waste in the program.
I rise today to talk about the truth, and its relationship to democracy. For without truth, and a principled fidelity to truth and to shared facts, our democracy will not last. 2017 was a year which saw the truth – objective, empirical, evidence-based truth -- more battered and abused than any other in the history of our country, at the hands of the most powerful figure in our government. It was a year which saw the White House enshrine “alternative facts” into the American lexicon, as justification for what used to be known simply as good old-fashioned falsehoods.
The National Hispanic Media Coalition, Color of Change, NAACP and the Benton Foundation are among the organizations concerned about proposed changes to the Lifeline program, which is on the docket for the Federal Communications Commission’s upcoming open meeting. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai -- who has long called for reforms to deter waste, fraud and abuse in Lifeline -- is seeking a vote at the agency’s Nov. 16 meeting on a major overhaul of the program, which subsidizes phone and broadband service for the poor.
This 26-year-old federal fund evolved to fight the ‘digital divide.’ Now a court might throw it out.
Over the past 26 years, the Universal Service Fund — a federal subsidy pool collected monthly from American telephone customers — has spent close to $9 billion a year to give Americans better phone and internet connections, wiring rural communities in Arkansas, inner-city neighborhoods in Chicago, and public libraries and schools across the country. Now it faces the biggest crisis of its existence, and Congress appears paralyzed in the effort to fix it.