Sen. Ron Wyden speaking at a podium.

Forest Service, USDA/Flickr (Public Domain)

Democrats introduce bill to add $6 billion to broadband benefit program

The bill would allocate more money for the subsidy program.

Mar 26, 2021, 11:12 am*

Tech

 

Andrew Wyrich

A large group of Senate Democrats have introduced a bill that would funnel an additional $6 billion into a program that will allow Americans to receive a monthly subsidy to help pay for internet bills.

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Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and more than a dozen other Democrats unveiled a new bill that would expand on the Emergency Broadband Benefit program that gives eligible households a $50 monthly discount for broadband service, and up to $75 a month if they are on Tribal lands.

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last month approved the final rules for the Emergency Broadband Benefit, which is specifically for low-income homes that have lost income because of the coronavirus pandemic. The program, which currently has $3.2 billion allocated for it, was established late last year as part of a coronavirus relief bill.

“Democrats made a massive down-payment on broadband in the last relief package,” Wyden said in a statement. “This bill will make sure that the families who need broadband the most don’t lose access just as our country can see the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) also sponsored the bill.

The bill was also included in the recently introduced Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act, Wyden said in a statement. That bill aims to use $94 billion to expand broadband infrastructure in the country, among other things.

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*First Published: Mar 26, 2021, 11:01 am