Rep. Cuellar Announces Federal Funding for Broadband Connectivity Programs in Rural Communities
FY22 Appropriations bill includes funding for USDA’s ReConnect Program, Distance Learning and Telemedicine, Community Connect Grants
Washington | Dana Youngentob, DC Press Secretary (202-340-9148), March 15, 2022
Washington, DC—U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28), a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, announced $450,000,000 for the ReConnect Program and $60,000,000 for Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants. These funds add to the $2,000,000,000 included the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) for the ReConnect program. Together, these critically needed resources will assist rural communities to connect to the rest of the world, access remote learning opportunities, and overcome health disparities.
More specifically, the ReConnect Loan and Grant Program increases access to broadband connectivity in unserved and underserved rural communities, targeting areas of the country with the largest broadband coverage gaps while adjusting collateral requirements to ensure greater program access.
The Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant program assists rural communities connect to telehealth networks and provide additional access to telemedicine. The program also encourages a focus on tele-emergency medical services and tele-electrocardiogram for use in advanced critical care in rural populations.
“High-speed broadband is critical for a community’s growth and prosperity, yet many of our neighbors are unable to obtain reliable access. This federal investment will be used to improve internet speeds for schools, homes, doctors’ offices, and businesses, bringing new economic development opportunities to our communities.” said Congressman Cuellar. “I will continue to fund programs that close the digital divide between urban and rural America—so that rural communities can fully participate in the modern economy”
Cuellar previously announced $10 million in federal funding for broadband connectivity in Zapata County. The funding supports broadband access to more than 5,000 households, 20 farms, 15 businesses, 15 educational facilities and 10 community centers.
The funding, provided through the USDA ReConnect Program, includes a $5 million grant and a $5 million loan.