The latest proposal for a COVID-19 relief plan to be introduced in Congress has a $900 billion price tag, with billions allocated towards broadband. The bi-partisan and bi-cameral effort introduces a framework for stalled pandemic relief efforts in Congress.
The COVID-19 relief plan outlines $908 billion in funding to go to various efforts, including $10 billion for broadband funding. A large portion of the funding, $288 billion, would fund a second round of small business support, including another payroll protection program.
The COVID-19 relief funding framework provides no details on how the $10 billion of broadband funding would be allocated. Other pandemic relief funding measures have stalled in Congress, including the multi-trillion dollar Heroes Act.
That act allocated roughly $9 billion to various broadband efforts, including $4 billion for supporting connectivity to low income households during the pandemic.
The $2 trillion CARES Act, passed back in April, allocated $300 million towards telecom programs, but also gave states great leeway in how to spend $150 billion for pandemic relief. Many states have allocated millions of dollars in funding towards broadband programs within their states.
This latest effort has bi-partisan support, as well as support from both chambers in Congress, Senate and the House. The so called Problem Solvers Caucus, which includes 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans, has endorsed the framework.
“After many days of bipartisan negotiations, I’m proud that we’ve reached a compromise to help Americans get through the holiday season, while providing much-needed relief for small businesses, local governments, health care providers, and low-income and minority communities, among others,” said Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) in a prepared statement. “I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to put the months of stalled negotiations behind us, and to support this bipartisan compromise in order to ensure that families across the country are not forced to spend the holiday unable to put food on the table.”
President-Elect Biden has signaled his support for COVID-19 relief that includes broadband funding, as well as potentially new infrastructure funding.