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Video Recap: Pingree Pushes USDA to Speed Up Broadband Expansion in Nation’s Smallest Rural Communities

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture & Rural Development, today asked officials from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development to detail their plans for rural broadband as outlined in their Fiscal Year 2022 budget request, including how they plan to better prioritize broadband in under-resourced communities.

“I think each of us [on the committee] claim that our district is worst served by broadband, but mine is. Mine’s 49th in the country in access and 49th in the country for speed…One of my concerns is in our state about the smaller communities that are so anxious to get access to broadband,” said Pingree in her questions to USDA Rural Development officials. “Better resourced communities shouldn’t be the only ones who have access to [USDA] Rural Development programs. Very few communities in Maine have a town planner on staff, so they don’t really have the capacity to be able to apply for some of the grants or jump through some of the hoops that are necessary…How do we make this workable and make this not only available to larger communities with big staffs and resources?”

“We are committed to doing everything that we can to spread truly high speed broadband to 100% of the country. The American Jobs Plan identifies the scale and resources necessary to make that happen,” said USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson.

Video of Pingree’s questions to USDA officials is available here. A response from Mr. Justin Maxson, Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development, US Department of Agriculture and Mr. Christopher McLean, Acting Administrator, Rural Utilities Service are available here.

Pingree is a member of the bipartisan Rural Broadband Caucus and has been a vocal advocate for increasing connectivity in Maine and across rural America. 




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