Letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader Charles Schumer, and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy - In Bipartisan, Bicameral Letter, Bennet Urges Congressional Leaders to Include Dedicated Broadband Funding for Low-Income Families, Students in Future Coronavirus Relief Packages


Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader Schumer, and Minority Leader McCarthy:

We write to urge you to include dedicated funding in any future legislation to help ensure small broadband providers can keep students and low-income families connected during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Many students and low-income families are facing financial hardships due to the pandemic need assistance from small broadband providers--many of which have already committed to sustain critical internet services and provide upgrades to ensure that the most vulnerable among us stay connected.

In recent weeks, unemployment claims have surged, and schools across the country have closed in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus, leaving many Americans--including low-income families and students--without critical internet connectivity. Many small broadband providers have committed to continue providing voice and broadband services and upgrades despite ongoing economic hardships facing many Americans. Small providers--which contribute to more than 77,000 jobs and support more than $10 billion in economic activity in the United States-- may be unable to sustain services if customers are unable to pay for a prolonged period of time, jeopardizing broadband connectivity for customers all across this country. Without action from Congress, small providers may be unable to continue to help ensure that the communities they serve can access distance learning and telehealth services.

It is for this reason that we introduced the bipartisan Keeping Critical Connections Act, which now has 11 cosponsors in the House and 17 in the Senate. While the third coronavirus relief package included funding for rural broadband deployment, it did not include funding to help small broadband providers sustain services and upgrades for students and low-income families. We now urge you to include funding in the next expected relief package for a temporary emergency relief fund at the Federal Communications Commission to help small broadband providers continue these critical services for students and low-income families throughout the pandemic.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We stand ready to work with you to help small broadband companies keep communities connected at this critical time.