Sen. Marshall joins legislation to help small, rural broadband providers

Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 5:39 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Senator Roger Marshall has joined a bill to help small broadband providers ensure rural broadband connectivity.

Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) says he joined Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to reintroduce the Keeping Critical Connections Act, which is a bipartisan bill to help small broadband providers make sure rural broadband connectivity stays available for students and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he helped lead the legislation during his time in the U.S. House of Representatives in Congress as well.

“Now more than ever we’re seeing how important it is to have access to a fast and reliable broadband connection,” said Senator Marshall. “As some students and workers are continuing to work from home, our rural telecommunications providers have been working around the clock to ensure students, communities, and businesses have reliable internet access, no matter where they live. This bill will provide assistance to small companies trying to address the unique rural telecommunications needs posed by COVID-19, and ensure all Americans can remain connected during this difficult time.”

Sen. Marshall said the legislation would earmark $2 billion for a Keeping Critical Connections Emergency Fund at the Federal Communications Commission which would ensure providers with less than 250,000 customers could be paid for broadband services under certain conditions. He said the legislation is endorsed by NTCA - The Rural Broadband Association.

“Access to high-speed internet is more critical now than ever for students and their families during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond,” said Senator Klobuchar. “The Keeping Critical Connections Act will help small broadband providers continue providing free or discounted broadband services to ensure that students and families remain connected to school, work, and their communities.”

According to Sen. Marshall, 27 Senators cosponsor the bill: Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and John Hoeven (R-ND), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), John Barrasso (R-WY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Boozman (R-AR), Gary Peters (D-MI), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Josh Hawley (R-MO), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).

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