Trump, Democrats Talk Rural Broadband

President Donald Trump's push for rural broadband deployment as a way to help high-tech agriculture was on the agenda at a White House infrastructure meeting Tuesday (April 30) with top Congressional Democrats.

According to the White House, at the meeting were House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Reps. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Ben Ray Lujàn (D-N.M.), Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.).

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called the gathering an "excellent" meeting on among other things, "expanding broadband access for our great farmers and rural America."

According to someone familiar with the meeting, Trump, Pelosi and Schumer agreed that broadband must be a part of any infrastructure plan. Democrats have budgeted for billions for broadband, while the president has previously just signaled it would be part of a general government investment to spur even more private investment in a variety of infrastructure projects.

Democrats also want to get money to both unserved and underserved areas, including defining underserved by affordability, while Republicans generally want to confine it as much as possible to unserved, arguing that should be the priority.

“Rebuilding America’s infrastructure is a national priority and must include not only strengthening our bridges and roads, but a commitment to broadband deployment in unserved areas of the country,” USTelecom CEO Jonathan Spalter said. “Our economy and continued global leadership depends on it.”

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.