By: Ted Goodman—
Pence Amendment successfully increases funding for rural broadband programs, ensuring more communities have access to innovative tele-health technology and distance learning educational opportunities
WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Representative Greg Pence successfully offered an Amendment to ensure communities across the 6th District, and rural America, have the necessary support to increase access to broadband programs. The Amendment passed 425 to 6, indicating broad, bipartisan support.
“I am grateful for the support of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help close the digital divide in rural America,” Rep. Pence said. “Without access to broadband, entire communities can be left behind, and I am proud to have gotten something done to increase rural broadband access.”
Specifically, the Pence Amendment increases funding for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine program by $25 million, so that more communities in the 6th District have access to health care, educational, government services, and business opportunities. The Amendment is revenue-neutral.
Currently, over 14 million Americans living in rural communities still lack access to basic broadband service. In the 6th District, the DLT grant program has been successful at linking teachers in one area to students in another.
The rural broadband grant programs at USDA help Americans tap into tele-health technology, distance learning education, and internet-based agribusiness that our farmers desperately rely on to remain competitive. Last year, almost half of the funds from the DLT program were used to combat opioid and substance abuse.
“The ongoing opioid crisis is still wreaking havoc on communities across America, and now is not the time to cut corners on programs that address this problem,” Pence added, alluding to the fact that this new funding will support efforts to help people seeking treatment for, and prevention of, opioid use.