Warner pushes to ensure localities have time to utilize COVID-19 relief for broadband
Funding authorized by the CARES Act to make broadband more accessible is set to expire on Dec. 30.
U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) is pushing the Treasury Department to extend the deadline
Congress appropriated $150 billion to help to cover pandemic-related expenses for which local governments did not originally budget. Unclear guidance from the Treasury Department has stalled localities in their efforts to distribute some of these funds by the allocation deadline, which requires localities to obligate all their funds by Dec. 30.
“Households across the country continue to struggle to make it through this public health emergency without access to broadband,” Warner wrote in a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of broadband in accessing essential services, with an unprecedented number of Americans now reliant on internet connectivity to access public benefits, search for employment, learn and work from home, and access telehealth services.
“Lack of broadband access has prevented Americans in underserved communities from meaningfully participating in the digital economy even before the pandemic, and under current circumstances, this lack of access threatens to have a significant and potentially long-lasting impact on existing economic, health, and educational disparities.”
Warner also requested that the Treasury Department publish updated guidance making clear that states and localities can use this funding for broadband projects as long as project plans are finalized by the CARES Act deadline, making clear that states and localities can commence and continue projects if their plans have been finalized prior to the deadline.