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Senate Dems: Coronavirus Bill Needs Billions for E-Rate

Senate Democrats said the Republican-proposed coronavirus stimulus package lacks funding for sufficient home internet connectivity for students and there needs to be funding in the next version. 

Specifically they want at least $2 billion in e-rate funds for schools and libraries. Markey is the author of the legislation that established the e-rate. 

“Children without connectivity are at risk of not only being unable to complete their homework during this pandemic, but being unable to continue their overall education,” they wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Ohio). “Congress must address this issue by providing additional financial support for home internet access in the next emergency relief package so that no child falls behind in their education.”

Related: Sen. Rand Paul Tests Positive for Coronavirus 

They said the pandemic has shined a light on the homework gap. "Without Congressional action, this existing inequity will only be exacerbated by the high number of schools that are suspending in-person classes and have transitioned to remote learning over the internet to protect the health of students, faculty, and staff," they said. 

Lead signatories on the letter were Sens. Ed Markey (Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), and Michael Bennet (Colo.). 

The Senate is currently working on a coronavirus bill with an estimated $2 billion in stimulus funds. 

John Eggerton
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.