Grassley introduces bill to help expand rural broadband

WASHINGTON — Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley introduced a bill this week which he says will help rural Iowa communities, as well as isolated towns across the U.S.,  get high-speed internet connections.

The measure is called the Assisting Broadband Connectivity Act and it’s being co-sponsored in the Senate by Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar. Grassley says, “This bipartisan bill will make changes to the rural broadband program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture so that areas aren’t automatically ineligible for federal funding because a project previously received state funding.”

The update will help rural Iowa to move forward, Grassley says, by providing more coordination and funding for broadband projects. He says the bill should help to remove barriers to broadband expansion and streamline the process for hard-to-serve rural areas.

“States will be able to use federal funds such as COVID aid for broadband,” he says, “fulfilling their requirement in most applications to match federal dollars.” Grassley, a Republican, says the legislation promises to help small communities connect all the pieces from state and federal levels to get the expensive, urgent projects completed. Grassley says he’s held town halls in 85 of Iowa’s 99 counties so far this year, and at practically every meeting, broadband is brought up.

“Some places you go in rural Iowa are mostly connected with the work of small telephone companies,” Grassley says, “and some of them have outstanding service and then other areas you go and they have no service or they’re underserved.” He says boosting broadband will spark economic development and create jobs in rural America.

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