Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and Richard Neal, D-Mass., released a five-year infrastructure investment framework Jan. 29 with $98 billion dedicated to broadband initiatives.

Most of the funding will go toward nationwide deployment of high-speed broadband with some set aside for updating emergency services infrastructure. The full breakdown of broadband funding in the framework is:

  • $80 billion to deploy secure and resilient broadband;
  • $5 billion for low-interest financing of broadband deployment;
  • $540 million to build out state efforts related to the adoption of broadband;
  • $600 million to support digital equity; and
  • $12 billion in grants to support the implementation of Next Generation 911

“It is nearly impossible to participate in today’s economy without internet service, and this framework ensures that no community is left behind in the digital economy,” Pallone, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said. “We make bold investments in our nation’s digital infrastructure that will get us to 100 percent high-speed broadband coverage and spur greater adoption.”

Securing funding for the full $760 billion infrastructure framework will be the next challenge for House Democrats. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., admitted at a press conference on the framework, “This is a big step though and a major expense – we have to find the funding for it.”

Neal added that while there had been some conversation around funding, members have not yet reached an agreement.

“There was no discussion about how to pay for it, and I think that what we’re looking for here is an agreement that we can then take to the public, between the two sides, on how best to pay for it, so there’s not one-upmanship,” he said.

House Ways and Means Committee held a Jan. 29 hearing on funding the framework and it will go to the floor “when we’re ready,” according to Pelosi.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.