Rep. Eshoo, Sen. Booker Lead Bicameral Letter Calling on Treasury Department to Allow Municipalities to More Easily Use American Rescue Plan Funds for Broadband

May 27, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) led a bicameral letter signed by nine lawmakers calling on the Treasury Department to recommend a change to the Interim Final Rule related to allowable expenditures of funds for state and local governments under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The proposed change would allow for more municipalities to use funds to provide accessible, high-speed internet in their towns and cities.

The Treasury Department’s Interim Final Rule expects state and local governments to use ARPA funds in areas that lack access to wireline internet connections capable of reliably delivering speeds of 25 Mbps download and 3 MBps upload (25/3) while also requiring recipients of ARPA funds to invest in broadband speeds of at least 100 Mbps download and 100 MBps upload (100/100). This limits municipalities that have broadband too slow for multiple video conferencing connections from using ARPA funds to upgrade their infrastructure to higher speeds.

“We appreciate the Interim Final Rule’s detailed and thoughtful discussion about the need for high-speed broadband. We agree with your assessment that high speeds are necessary to meet the digital needs of Americans today and that any investment should meet reasonably anticipatable bandwidth requirements in the near future. We applaud the Interim Final Rule’s encouragement of local governments, nonprofits, and co-operatives that administer networks,” the lawmakers write.

The lawmakers continue, “The 25/3 standard is insufficient and it has been for years… If Treasury sets any threshold, it should be set to the higher standard of 100/100, which is consistent with the detailed discussion Treasury lays out regarding the needs of Americans. This one change of removing the 25/3 limitation on broadband projects will enable many more communities to use the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to expand access to high-speed broadband, should they so decide.”

The letter is signed by Reps. Anna G. Eshoo, Raúl M. Grijalva, Mike Thompson, Jerry McNerney, Lori Trahan, Peter Welch, and Debbie Dingell, along with Senators Cory A. Booker and Ron Wyden.

Rep. Eshoo and Sen. Booker sponsored the Community Broadband Act, legislation that will empower local communities to ensure their residents have broadband access by removing roadblocks for public-private partnerships and locally-owned broadband systems.

The full letter can be found HERE.