No Broadband Set-aside in Trump Infrastructure? However? [Update]

Rural lawmakers may be disappointed that President Donald Trump’s infrastructure proposal being rolled out this morning lacks a pot of money just for broadband. Senior Trump administration officials confirmed over the weekend that Trump is proposing $200 billion in direct federal spending, with $50 billion for rural infrastructure in the form of block grants to states and covering many modes of infrastructure, including broadband. These rural funds would be fast-tracked and have few strings attached. Trump expects to pay for the direct infrastructure spending through cuts proposed in his fiscal 2019 budget, also set for release today, an official said.

– Some GOP lawmakers as well as Democrats say broadband requires more. Senate Broadband Caucus co-chairwoman Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) told John last month that if the White House doesn’t include an internet set-aside, Congress should “reshape” the proposal. She argues that governors would be more inclined to use cash for roads and bridges than broadband if infrastructure modes are lumped into one rural fund. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership and senior Commerce Committee member, also upped his rural broadband talk in recent weeks. An aide said Blunt backs a rural broadband deployment set-aside, even if the Commerce panel has to fashion it. Trump officials have stressed a desire to cut the environmental permitting process down to two years or less, a move they say will help infrastructure deployment.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

Here is the However question answer:

What does this mean for his infrastructure package? Our country is in trouble because we don’t have the leadership that is required. … If the administration is not going to do something, the Congress should move and put a magnificent bill on the president’s desk. Democrats have put the idea forward for years on an infrastructure bank. … [Dedicated broadband funding] needs to be a feature.

What are your expectations for House E&C’s rural broadband efforts as it moves toward a markup of some of the 25 bills it’s considering? The chair will probably cherry-pick and some obviously will make it and others won’t. But I think that going into it, there should be consensus developed by the members of the committee: What are our operating principles in this? What do we want to achieve? I don’t know what the committee wants to achieve and maybe that’s written down somewhere and I just don’t know about it.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

Update 03-21-18:  There is $600 million carve out for rural broadband in the budget just passed and signed by President Trump


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