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Republicans stick to slimmed-down broadband spending in latest infrastructure counterproposal to Biden

The Republican offer sets aside number billed as way to compromise.

 

Andrew Wyrich

Tech

Published May 27, 2021   Updated Jun 1, 2021, 10:21 am CDT

Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled their latest infrastructure counterproposal as they continue to go back-and-forth with President Joe Biden’s administration—and they are sticking to the slimmed-down money for broadband.

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In totality, the Republicans’ latest infrastructure offer is less than what the White House has sought. As for broadband, the newest proposal sets broadband funding at $65 billion, a number that the White House recently floated, billing it as way to compromise with Republicans and match their original proposal.

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The White House’s original infrastructure plan proposed $100 billion for broadband funding that would be used to try and close the country’s digital divide, the gap between those who have access to affordable high-speed broadband and those who don’t.

The funding would prioritize building in underserved and unserved areas; support for local-owned, non-profit, and cooperative broadband networks; and set aside money for Tribal lands.

But late last week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the White House had presented Republicans with a $1.7 trillion infrastructure package and framed it as the “art of seeking common ground.”

As part of that decreased proposal, the White House cut the broadband spending from $100 billion to $65 billion.

In their proposal on Thursday, Republicans noted that $65 billion would be set aside for broadband, which fits with the White House’s slimmed-down number and matches their first offer from back in April.

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It’s unclear how the White House will react to the Republicans’ latest infrastructure counteroffer.

Last week Vice President Kamala Harris held a digital divide listening session where she noted the “barriers” people face seeking broadband connectivity including access, affordability, and equity while promoting the infrastructure package.

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*First Published: May 27, 2021, 9:17 am CDT