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President Signs Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act; $65 Billion to Be Made Available to Expand Broadband Access

Posted by CommLaw | Nov 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

President Biden on Monday signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684), a historic bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress earlier this month.

The Act will provide unprecedented funds to support broadband deployment and  middle-mile funding. In particular, the Act makes available:

  • $42.45 billion to increase broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas of the U.S. – larger than all prior U.S. broadband grant programs combined.
  • $14 billion for the FCC's Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program to fund broadband and digital equity affordability.
  • $1 billion for “middle mile” infrastructure.
  • Funds for broadband mapping.

Priority will be given to unserved areas that currently do not have access to speeds of 25/3 mbps.

The funding programs will be technology-neutral, and private entities, non-profit organizations, and municipalities are eligible to seek funds.

The funding programs will be administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA), part of the Executive Branch's Department of Commerce, which will award grants to States through the Broadband Equity, Access & Deployment Program. States in turn will develop plans, to be approved by NTIA, for disbursing funds to subgrantees.  NTIA is expected to issue a Notice of Funding Opportunity for the States to apply for funding by May 2022.

The President also signed an Executive Order establishing an Infrastructure Implementation Task Force and outlining the Administration's priorities under the Act.

The Task Force Co-Chairs are Brian Deese, Director of the National Economic Council, and Mitch Landrieu, the White House Infrastructure Coordinator.

Other members will include the Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, the Interior, Labor, and Transportation; the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; the Director of the Office of Management and Budget; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council; and the Assistant to the President and National Climate Advisor. The Co-Chairs may invite the heads of other executive departments, agencies, and offices to participate.

The Task Force will coordinate implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and related infrastructure programs within the Executive Branch.

The Executive Order sets forth out six main priorities for Federal agencies implementing the Act:

  • investing public dollars efficiently, avoiding waste, and focusing on measurable outcomes;
  • increasing the competitiveness of the U.S. economy, including through Made-in-America requirements and bolstering U.S. manufacturing and supply chains;
  • improving job opportunities for Americans by focusing on high labor standards, including prevailing wages and the free and fair chance to join a union;
  • investing public dollars equitably, including through the Justice40 Initiative, which has its goal that 40% of the overall benefits from Federal investments in climate and clean energy flow to disadvantaged communities;
  • building infrastructure that is resilient and helps combat climate change; and
  • coordinating with State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments to implement investments.

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