09/21/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/21/2023 09:45
Today, Chair of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH5), and Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA7), announced they have joined the Universal Service Fund (USF) Working Group, a bicameral effort led in the U.S. Senate by Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and John Thune (R-S.D.), Chair and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband.
Launched earlier this year in the Senate, this bipartisan working group was established to evaluate and propose potential reforms to the USF, with the goal of developing a bipartisan forum to guide education, awareness, and policy-making. Today's announcement highlights the bicameral, bipartisan commitment to support the USF and close the digital divide with long term solutions for universal connectivity, education, healthcare, and affordability while improving interagency coordination and eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse.
"As Chair of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, one of my top priorities is working to ensure we effectively provide rural broadband to unserved communities across the United States," Latta said."I'm pleased to announce that I will continue this mission - along with Ranking Member Matsui - by joining Senators Luján and Thune's Universal Service Fund Working Group. I look forward to working together in a bipartisan and bicameral fashion to strengthen the USF, examine future broadband programs, and ensure the citizens I serve in Ohio's Fifth District have access to reliable broadband Internet."
"Reliable, high-speed broadband access is a fundamental pillar of modern life. From rural broadband deployment to vital programs like Lifeline and E-Rate, the Universal Service Fund has been a savior for millions of Americans,"Matsui said."Closing the digital divide remains a top, bipartisan priority. We realize that the stakes for getting connectivity right are sky high. That's why I am joining together with this bicameral group to find solutions, strengthen the Universal Service Fund and ensure it remains resilient for years to come."
"The Universal Service Fund has proven to be critical in expanding broadband access for our schools, hospitals, and communities across America," Luján said. "I'm proud to welcome my House colleagues to this bipartisan working group to strengthen the USF and ensure the program can meet their mission of connecting every household to universal service. Alongside Senator Thune, I look forward to leading this bicameral group to further our commitment to close the digital divide and provide all New Mexicans with an internet connection that's safe, affordable, and reliable."
"Universal service is a bipartisan principle that has been the bedrock of our nation's communications policies for nearly 90 years, and programs that efficiently and effectively strengthen its underlying goal have contributed to advancements in health care, education, and economic development,"Thune said."I remain committed to ensuring Americans in rural parts of the country have access to communication services, and I am pleased that our House colleagues are joining us in this important effort."
Latta's work to improve rural broadband Internet access:
As Chair of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, Latta has worked to close the digital divide by expanding rural broadband access to communities who are unserved or underserved. These efforts include his Broadband Data Act - signed into law in 2020 - which required the FCC to create new and updated broadband maps to ensure federal resources are appropriately allocated to communities that lack internet access.