Rep. James Clyburn Signals Return of $100B Broadband Bill

Capitol Building

Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said Wednesday (Feb. 10) that he plans to reintroduce the Internet Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act.

That came in a video session at the INCOMPAS virtual Policy Summit Wednesday.

The bill would invest $100 billion to close the digital divide. 

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Clyburn, who created the Rural Broadband Task Force, said he had lined up support in the House and Senate for his bill, which would be re-introduced in the House in the next couple of weeks.

He said he had talked to everybody he needed to, including the White House, to make that investment in "accessible and affordable broadband for all" an integral part of any infrastructure bill.

He relayed the story of a farmer in a rural Tennessee church. "He said 'brothers and sisters, the greatest thing on Earth is to have the love of God in your hearts, and the next greatest thing is to have electricity in your house.'" Clyburn said the new "next greatest" is broadband. 

Saying he could speak out more freely given that his daughter, Mignon Clyburn, former acting FCC chair, had decided not to get back into government, Clyburn weighed in on broadband mapping.

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He said that the notion that if one house in a census tract has access to broadband all the homes do can't continue to be the case. He pointed out that both he and INCOMPAS President Chip Pickering were from Southern States (Pickering is a former Mississippi congressman), and said that on a plantation, what the "Big House" gets does not necessarily apply to other houses.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.