The Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act (H.R. 3193) recently passed the House of Representatives.
The legislation, which is actively supported by Farm Bureau, removes hurdles for broadband projects under Economic Development Administration grants, including difficult last-mile efforts that often delay rural broadband deployment. It ensures local communities can partner with the private sector in carrying out broadband projects and gives communities more flexibility in complying with their funding match requirements.
The bill passed the House with strong bipartisan support by a vote of 410-16. It is unclear on whether the Senate will take up the legislation at this time.
“Broadband is critical for farmers, ranchers and rural communities,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “With 17% of rural Americans still without reliable broadband, the digital divide restricts access to essential education, healthcare and business resources as well as limits farmers’ capacity to use the latest technology to meet sustainability goals.”
Representatives Fred Keller (R-Pa.) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) co-sponsored the E-BRIDGE Act, which was introduced by Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Michael Guest (R-Miss.) in May of 2021.