US Capitol Building

Four Republican senators have released a proposed “framework” for infrastructure legislation that would allocate $65 billion for broadband as part of a total $568 billion package that also would include money for roads, bridges, public transit, drinking water, airports and more. In a press release, framework sponsors said they hoped to be able to negotiate bipartisan legislation with Democrats, who have proposed to invest as much as $3 trillion or more in infrastructure.

Sponsors of the Republican framework include Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) The press release about the Republican broadband framework did not detail how the Republicans propose to allocate broadband funding, other than noting that funding would be dispersed over a five-year period.

Republican Broadband Proposal

“This Republican proposal sensibly rebuilds the nation’s real infrastructure without raising taxes or increasing the debt,” said Toomey in the press release, which notes that the proposed framework is the largest infrastructure investment that Republicans have ever put forth.

According to a report by Multichannel News, the $65 billion that the Republicans propose to spend on broadband would come from the proceeds in the recent C-band spectrum auction. That auction raised $81 billion, but some of the proceeds would be used to relocate the satellite providers that currently use the spectrum.

Democrats have proposed raising corporate taxes to cover their infrastructure proposal, known as the American Jobs Plan or the Biden infrastructure bill. Republicans oppose that idea.

What remains to be seen now is whether Democrats and Republicans will be able to agree on compromise legislation. With Democrats controlling the House of Representatives and virtually controlling the Senate, they may have the option of simply pushing their legislation through with little or no Republican support.

Some policy experts caution against that approach, however, arguing that legislation pushed through by a single party generally faces ongoing push back from the other party. That push back can create implementation and other challenges.

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