House Energy & Commerce Committee Republicans have a very different definition of "lift," as made clear by ranking member Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) in her opening statement Monday (March 22) for a Hill on the Democrat's LIFT America Act infrastructure bill, which spends $300 billion on broadband, clean drinking water, healthcare system, and more.
Committee chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said that the bill "will allow for 100 percent broadband deployment across the country, closing the digital divide. "
Rodgers said that it was a progressive wish list full of mandates, and that Congress should, instead, "lift" regulatory burdens.
In their opening statements on the hearing, Democrats said the bill was a job-creating "transformational" investment in the nation's future, including closing that digital divide. Echoing the written testimony of former FCC chair Tom Wheeler, Communications Subcommittee chair Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) said that the bill would deliver on high-speed broadband for all defined as affordable, available and sufficiently high-speed.
Republicans said that the bill represented a blow to bipartisanship since none of the bills in the GOP's boosting broadband agenda were included in the Democratic package, including on broadband mapping. Pointing to the $80 billion for universal broadband in the LIFT Act, Communications Subcommittee ranking member Bob Latta (R-Ohio) said that would be money going out the door before better broadband availability maps were completed, something he pointed out current acting FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel has criticized.
McMorris Rodgers said the broadband funding will waste billions without closing the digital divide and, in fact, setting back rural America even further, forcing regulatory regimes and higher costs on Americans.
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