(WASHINGTON) – Congressman Jim Banks led a group of Indiana Representatives, Rep. James Baird, Rep. Susan Brooks, Rep. Larry Bucshon, Rep. Trey Hollingsworth and Rep. Jackie Walorski, in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin requesting he allow state, local and tribal governments to use CARES Act funding for broadband expansion.
The CARES Act includes a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide payments to state governments for “necessary expenditures” in the fight against coronavirus. To date, Treasury has excluded broadband expansion from its definition of “necessary expenditures.” The coronavirus pandemic has forced Americans to rely on broadband for teleworking, remote learning and telehealth, but broadband remains unreliable in many parts of rural America.
“A broadband infrastructure project, using CARES funds, would give a two-pronged boost to Indiana’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and it would come at no extra cost to federal taxpayers,” said Rep. Banks. “On the one hand, the project would directly create needed jobs in our state. On the other, it would greatly improve rural Hoosiers’ internet access, which, because of government-mandated social distancing regulations, is very necessary.”