Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher Leads Effort Urging Support For Local Governments To Implement Broadband Expansion
Washington, June 26, 2023
Prior to today’s announcement of the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, outlining the distribution of $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and U.S. territories, Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, advocating for clear guidance to allow local governments to use BEAD funds to increase their permitting capacity to deploy broadband projects effectively. This letter follows the Congresswoman’s work to provide state and local governments with resources to facilitate, modernize, and streamline broadband upgrades and deployment in her bill the Broadband Incentives for Communities Act. In addition to her letter, Congresswoman Fletcher has spoken with officials at the U.S. Department of Commerce to advocate for this use of funds and, more generally, how to work together to ensure the BEAD program’s success.
“With nearly $43 billion in funding, many local government offices will receive a flood of applications to deploy infrastructure—the towers, fiber, and small cells needed to provide broadband connections—and may have limited resources for reviewing and processing these applications,” Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher wrote.
“Local governments need financial support to hire and train employees, purchase software, and upgrade capabilities to efficiently navigate the permitting process and begin these projects,” Congresswoman Fletcher continued.
“I have learned that these types of expenses will be considered eligible under the BEAD Program. I encourage NTIA and the Department of Commerce to issue clear guidance on this point so that local stakeholders know they can utilize these funds to improve their permitting processes,” Congresswoman Fletcher concluded.
Last year, Congresswoman Fletcher led a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen requesting further guidance on how local governments could use grant funding to expand broadband infrastructure and deployment in their communities. In the last Congress, Congresswoman Fletcher voted for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which, among other things, invests $65 billion in broadband programs, including the BEAD program to help bridge the digital divide.
To view the full text of the letter to Secretary Raimondo, click here.