Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Republican Leader Glenn 'GT' Thompson Full Committee Business Meeting: To Consider H.R. 4374, The Broadband Internet Connections for Rural America Act

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Washington, July 14, 2021 | comments
Remarks as prepared for delivery:

First, I want to thank you for listening to the concerns of our Members by bringing forward the updated amendment that reflects the changes that Representative Bustos planned to offer today.  The new amendment removes the language that sets aside funding for specific states and by doing that we are putting all rural communities that are in desperate need of reliable broadband on the same playing field.  And I appreciate you working with us on that.  

Throughout this Congress, our Committee has had countless discussions on ways we can empower our farm families and build a robust rural economy. It is with pride that today we make good on our word. I am proud to be able to work with you and support the Broadband Internet Connections for Rural America Act, which provides significant investments into the deployment and development of broadband to rural America. 

As the member who represents nearly 25 percent of the landmass of Pennsylvania, which is mostly rural, I am keenly aware of the importance of bringing connectivity to our underserved populations.

The legislation before us reflects many of our shared priorities and shared work.  And in many ways, it is similar to the legislation I introduced earlier this year, which also reflected our shared priorities.  I appreciate the focus on our common ground.

We agree on the need for substantial funding in rural broadband.  We agree on the importance of strengthening the broadband programs we helped craft in the 2018 Farm Bill.  And, we agree on the critical role that USDA plays in delivering programs and services in rural communities.

This bill takes those priorities and sets the stage for a historic investment in rural broadband, and for us to finally close the digital divide. The Department of Agriculture has the expertise, experience, and reach to bring these investments to rural America quickly and responsibly.

For more than 200 years, we have built communication and transportation networks, each of which has helped bring our vast nation closer. Canals and the post office gave way to railroads and telegraphs, which in turn gave way to highways and telephones. Today, we continue these efforts by expanding our modern communications network, the Internet.

Like those networks of previous generations, universally available broadband will tie the far-flung corners of this country together. And like those previous networks, it will bring untold economic, social, and cultural prosperity to every American, rural and urban alike. 

I want to thank all of the members of this committee for their work and enthusiasm to meet the needs of rural Americans. I know this issue is so personal for each of us and the constituents we represent.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, thank you for your leadership and your commitment to getting us to this point. This is a strong bill.

We keep saying the House Agriculture Committee is the most bipartisan Committee in the House. This markup is proof we can still reach an agreement under extraordinary times.

I don’t know if there is another Committee in this House, in this Congress, which will pass bipartisan infrastructure legislation.

It says something, Mr. Chairman. If favorably reported, this bill needs to be a part of the discussion as we decide the details of any broader infrastructure package.

But, as we negotiate that final package, all our good work here today will be for naught if this package is jammed through the House, tied to a partisan process that we cannot support. 

I know that’s not your way, Mr. Chairman. And that’s what makes this markup so important, to show that there is a better way to conduct the People’s business.

I look forward to continuing to work with you, to advance bipartisan solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems.

With that, I yield back.

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