Senator Collins Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Support Rural Broadband Amid COVID-19

The ACCESS the Internet Act would authorize $2 billion to expand broadband for distance learning and telehealth initiatives

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins cosponsored the ACCESS the Internet Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and John Cornyn (R-TX) that would authorize $2 billion to support distance learning and telehealth initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans have had to move their studies, health care services, and workplaces online. This transition, however, has made it particularly difficult for those who do not have access to reliable broadband at home,” said Senator Collins.  “This bipartisan bill would expand broadband for both distance learning and telehealth initiatives, helping to close the digital divide for rural and low-income residents in Maine and throughout the country.”

The ACCESS Act would provide $1.3 billion for the Department of Education to support rural school districts as they navigate distance learning, as well as to purchase and distribute Internet-connected devices to libraries in low-income and rural areas.  In addition, the legislation would provide funding for the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand telehealth programs in rural, underserved areas.

 

In July, Senators Collins and Manchin introduced the Hotspots and Online Technology and Services Procurement for our Tribes and States (HOTSPOTS) Act, a bipartisan bill that would create a two-year hotspot pilot program to help libraries in low-income and rural areas purchase and distribute Internet-connected devices in their communities.  This provision is included in the ACCESS the Internet Act. 

 

Click HERE for a summary of the bill.

 

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