Press Releases

Kuster, Johnson, O’Halleran, Herrell Introduce Legislation To Expand Access to Rural Broadband


Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Annie Kuster (D-NH), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), and Yvette Herrell (R-NM) introduced the Connect Unserved Americans Act, a bipartisan bill to ensure funding allocated to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for broadband is targeted to rural areas most in need of reliable service. The bill would increase the unserved household threshold for the USDA ReConnect Program from 50% to 80%, preventing the overbuilding of existing broadband networks at taxpayers’ expense. Over 2 million Americans lack access to broadband nationwide.


“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the urgent need to expand access to broadband in New Hampshire and across the country,” said Rep. Kuster, a member of the House Rural Broadband Task Force. “Granite Staters working from home, local small businesses, and patients accessing important care through telehealth appointments all need sufficient access to high-speed internet. I’m proud to join this group of my Republican and Democratic colleagues in introducing this legislation to ensure federal funding to expand broadband access is reaching our rural communities and those most in need. I will continue working to expand access to broadband across New Hampshire.”


“The pandemic exposed the cracks in our communities from the supply chain to internet access,” said Rep. Johnson. “The Connect Unserved Americans Act prioritizes areas that need connectivity and broadband the most. The ReConnect Program is a strong tool to ensure rural areas receive the services they need – our bill makes it even stronger.”


“The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the need for high-speed, affordable internet for every family—kids completing homework, parents teleworking, small businesses adapting to our changing economy, and doctors reaching their patients through telehealth,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “However, far too many families in Arizona’s First District lack access to any broadband connection. I’m proud to join this bipartisan group to introduce a commonsense bill that will work to ensure federal broadband funding reaches the communities most in need, preventing waste of taxpayer dollars by directing resources to the rural areas at the highest disadvantage.”  


“I am proud to support a bill that will connect the hard-working families of New Mexico,” said Rep. Herrell. “More than 33% of our citizens don’t have access to the minimum standard for broadband and approximately 122,000 people don’t have access to any broadband at all. This legislation is a critical step towards closing the digital divide while also preventing wasteful use of taxpayer dollars by overbuilding our broadband networks.”


U.S. Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Tina Smith (D-MN) introduced the Senate companion in February.