Senators Cantwell, Murray Fight to Ensure Rural Communities in Washington State Can Compete for Broadband Internet Grants

USDA’s current pilot program shuts out communities across Washington state

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) today applauded the successful passage of their amendment that would ensure rural communities across Washington state are eligible to compete for broadband service grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service. Earlier this year, Congress approved a $600 million pilot program for rural broadband grants but because of the way the formula was created, communities in Washington state were left out of the running. The Murray-Cantwell amendment corrects that.

“Broadband is a necessity. Without broadband, kids didn’t have high-speed internet to do their homework and entrepreneurs were unable to start online businesses or even develop a basic web-presence,” said Senator Cantwell. “This amendment will help bridge the digital divide and provide for universal access to high-speed Internet, so every American can receive equal educational, business and employment opportunities, no matter where they live in Washington state.”

“In today’s fast-paced economy, internet access isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity, and that’s true whether you’re a student, a small business owner, or simply trying to stay on top of your bills,” said Senator Murray, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I have long pushed efforts to erase this urban-rural digital divide, and as a voice for Washington state, I’m glad to offer this amendment to ensure communities all across our state can compete for these vital investments.”

Approximately 40 percent of Americans who live in rural areas—or 23 million people-- lack access to broadband internet. This includes hundreds of thousands of people in Washington state.

Read the amendment text HERE.