Republicans offered their infrastructure counterproposal to the Biden $1.7 trillion package Thursday (May 27) and, as promised, it offered up $65 billion for broadband deployment, down from Biden's proposed $100 billion plus.
It appears that a compromise infrastructure package has the best chance of passage. The total spending in the Republican offering is a bit under $1 trillion.
"Republicans are concerned that the Biden Administration’s proposals will waste taxpayer money without expanding broadband to unserved Americans," said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers, ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee following a White House meeting this week on closing the digital divide.
"Instead of working to increase access to broadband for all Americans, they are prioritizing inefficient—and often poorly managed—government-run networks, providing subsidies in the absence of accurate broadband mapping data, and establishing duplicative Federal programs," said Rodgers. "In addition, the administration is creating arbitrary speed requirements that merely lead to upgrades in areas that already have service. This will delay truly unserved communities from accessing reliable, high speed broadband."
The Republican's broadband funding bill, the American Broadband Act, would only put federal dollars where there is no broadband service, rather than potentially overbuilding existing services that don't meet a speed or competition or price benchmark, as the Biden proposal would do.
The $65 billion comes from the $81 billion in revenue from the FCC's C-Band auction--minus the $16 billion it will cost for the repacking and reallocation of that spectrum.
The Republicans have said their proposal focuses on core infrastructure, or what they said most of the American public considers infrastructure, rather than recycled cafeteria trays and climate justice.
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