Congressional Democratic leaders and President Trump today agreed that broadband should be included in an infrastructure package, and they said they agreed that the total price of the infrastructure initiative should be $2 trillion.
“We are pleased the President agreed to include a major investment in expanding broadband to rural, urban and other underserved areas to deliver broadband’s benefits for education, health care and commerce,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said in a joint statement.
Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Schumer, and other congressional Democratic leaders met with Mr. Trump and other administration officials at the White House today and agreed to meet again in three weeks. Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer said that Mr. Trump agreed at that meeting to offer proposals for funding the package.
The Democratic leaders told reporters after leaving the White House that the meeting with Mr. Trump had been “productive” and “constructive.”
“It’s clear that both the White House and all of us want to get something done on infrastructure in a big and bold way. And there was goodwill in this meeting,” Mr. Schumer said.
He stressed that in addition to including roads, bridges, highways, water projects, and the power grid, the officials agreed to put “a big emphasis on broadband,” adding “that every American home, we believe, needs broadband.”
“So this was a very, very good start and we’ll … hope it will go to a constructive conclusion,” Mr. Schumer said.
Speaker Pelosi also emphasized the broadband consensus. “It’s important to health care, it’s important to education, it’s important to commerce, and his embrace of that, in addition to transportation and water issues, was very important,” she said.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Mr. Trump and the congressional Democrats “had an excellent and productive meeting on rebuilding our Nation’s crumbling infrastructure including roads, highways, bridges, tunnels and railroads, modernizing our air travel system, and expanding broadband access for our great farmers and rural America.
“The United States has not come even close to properly investing in infrastructure for many years, foolishly prioritizing the interests of other countries over our own,” Ms. Sanders added. “We have to invest in this country’s future and bring our infrastructure to a level better than it has ever been before. We will have another meeting in three weeks to discuss specific proposals and financing methods.”
Today’s announcement that broadband will be part of any infrastructure package drew praise from industry entities.
“Rebuilding America’s infrastructure is a national priority and must include not only strengthening our bridges and roads, but a commitment to broadband deployment in unserved areas of the country. Our economy and continued global leadership depends on it,” said U.S. Telecom Association President and Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Spalter.
“What we need: A muscular, serious infrastructure bill that narrows the digital divide, supports broadband deployment, modernizes networks and gets all American families, communities and enterprises everywhere connected to the internet,” he added. “Any infrastructure plan should future-proof new infrastructure with fiber capabilities so new technology can be integrated and modified as years go by. Smart, connected solutions should be an integral part of every mile of American infrastructure constructed or reconstructed in the coming years.”
“Infrastructure legislation represents an important opportunity to include all Americans in our digital economy,” noted Claude Aiken, president and CEO of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association. “Congress can do the right thing and recognize that spectrum is infrastructure, allowing innovative providers to access that resource and bring new services to the unserved and competition everywhere.”
Mr. Aiken added, “Modernizing our communications landscape through better spectrum allocation, a level playing field for all providers, and recognition of the unique needs of small business would be a huge win for all Americans, especially those in hard to reach communities. We hope Congress takes this opportunity, which will yield benefits for decades to come.”- Paul Kirby, [email protected]
MainStory: Congress BroadbandDeployment
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