Graves’ E-BRIDGE Act Passes House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

July 30, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC – House Transportation and Infrastructure Ranking Member Sam Graves issued the following statement after his legislation, the Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee with bipartisan support. The E-BRIDGE Act will now head to the full House for further consideration.

“This is a big step forward for Missourians without access to reliable high-speed broadband internet,” said Graves. “The E-BRIDGE Act breaks down barriers in existing federal grant programs to unlock more funding to get last-mile internet infrastructure projects completed. It doesn’t matter how old you are or where you live, Americans of all walks of life use the internet for everything from precision agriculture, to telemedicine, to school work. It’s critical that we get folks plugged in and I’m grateful my colleagues on both sides of the aisle came together to get this common sense legislation passed out of committee.”

The Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act removes hurdles for broadband projects under EDA grants, including difficult last-mile efforts that often delay rural broadband deployment. It also ensures that 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. Click here to read the bill.

By helping to increase the reach of broadband to rural and economically distressed communities, the E-BRIDGE Act will help:

Attract new businesses and support current businesses in distressed regions of the country,

Strengthen healthcare systems and delivery of medical care to vulnerable populations,

Lay the groundwork for economic recovery in these areas, and

Better prepare these communities for future disasters or epidemics.

The E-BRIDGE Act helps accomplish these goals because it:

Eliminates barriers to investments in broadband in distressed communities, making them eligible for EDA grants.

Clarifies that eligible recipients may include public-private partnerships and consortiums to leverage private sector expertise in project development.

Provides flexibility in the procurement process to account for limited availability of broadband services in distressed communities.

Clarifies that funds can be combined with other federal resources.

Provides flexibility on accounting for in-kind methods to meet non-federal cost share.

The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management have jurisdiction over the programs of the EDA and its economic development programs.

What They Are Saying:

“Broadband access has been a lifeline during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the past year has shown us just how important it is to get everyone connected. On behalf of NTCA’s members, I want to thank Ranking Member Graves for his demonstrated interest in advancing connectivity through the E-BRIDGE Act. We particularly appreciate this bill’s emphasis on targeting efforts to areas most in need of broadband access and coordinating between various federal programs seeking to help promote such access.” – Shirley Bloomfield, CEO, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association

“Broadband is critical for farmers, ranchers and rural communities. 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. Farm Bureau appreciates Representatives Sam Graves and Michael Guest for introducing the Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility Act, a bill that would expand access to broadband by allowing distressed communities to utilize Economic Development Administration grants for broadband deployment.” – Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation

“The E-BRIDGE legislation will help support access to high-speed broadband connectivity throughout rural regions. These resources will allow for greater economic resiliency across the country and will help facilitate rural prosperity.” – Joe McKinney, Executive Director, National Association of Development Organizations (NADO). Read the full letter of support from NADO.

“One way to boost productivity and bridge gaps in equity is through investing in digital infrastructure. The App Association supports Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act (H.R. 3193/S. 1695) because this legislation would ensure that economic development organizations, in public-private partnerships or through consortia, can use Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant funds to support broadband deployment.” –Morgan W. Reed, President, ACT