House Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves issued the following statement after his legislation, the Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act passed the House of Representatives with strong bipartisan support on Thursday. The E-BRIDGE Act will now head to the Senate for further consideration.
“The E-BRIDGE Act cuts through red tape to enable communities to use existing federal funds to complete last-mile internet infrastructure projects. It doesn’t create any new federal programs. It just updates the Economic Development Act guidelines to allow communities to use those funds for the most powerful economic development tool we have—building internet infrastructure. This is big news for Missourians who still lack access to reliable high-speed internet and I look forward to the Senate taking up and passing this commonsense legislation.”
The Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act removes hurdles for broadband projects under EDA grants, including difficult last-mile efforts that often delay rural broadband deployment. It also ensures that local communities can partner with the private sector in carrying out broadband projects and gives communities more flexibility in complying with their funding match requirements. Click here to read the bill.
By helping to increase the reach of broadband to rural and economically distressed communities, the E-BRIDGE Act will help:
- Attract new businesses and support current businesses in distressed regions of the country,
- Strengthen healthcare systems and delivery of medical care to vulnerable populations,
- Lay the groundwork for economic recovery in these areas, and
- Better prepare these communities for future disasters or epidemics.
The E-BRIDGE Act helps accomplish these goals because it:
- Eliminates barriers to investments in broadband in distressed communities, making them eligible for EDA grants.
- Clarifies that eligible recipients may include public-private partnerships and consortiums to leverage private sector expertise in project development.
- Provides flexibility in the procurement process to account for the limited availability of broadband services in distressed communities.
- Provides flexibility on accounting for in-kind methods to meet non-federal cost share.
The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management have jurisdiction over the programs of the EDA and its economic development programs.