Blue Dogs Host Rural Opportunity Roundtable Discussion on Expanding Access to High-Speed Broadband Internet

Sep 3, 2020
Press Release
WASHINGTON—Today, the Blue Dog Coalition hosted its second discussion as part of the virtual Rural Opportunity Roundtable series. Specifically, today’s discussion focused on expanding access to high-speed broadband internet in rural America. It was moderated by Rep. Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Coalition’s Task Force on Rural Opportunity.
 
“Access to reliable high-speed internet is fundamentally an issue of opportunity and equity,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on Rural Opportunity. “A lack of broadband access in the 21st Century must not be thought of as any different than those communities that lacked access to electricity at the middle of the last century. And it is imperative that we meet the challenges of universal broadband access this century with the same urgency and determination with which we met the electrification challenges last century. The truth is that Washington should have solved this problem long before anyone had heard of COVID-19, but now it can no longer turn a blind eye to the fact that a lack of internet access is part of the larger systemic issue of inequality in our society.”
 
Rep. Spanberger was joined by the following special guests for the discussion on rural broadband:
 
  • Dr. Nicol Turner Lee, Director of the Center for Technology Innovation, Brookings Institution 
  • Gary E. Wood, CEO, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative
  • Shirley Bloomfield, CEO, NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association
  • Kathryn de Wit, Manager of the Broadband Research Initiative, Pew Charitable Trusts
 
To watch the full discussion, click here.
 
ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND:
 
The Blue Dogs are developing a forward-looking plan to strengthen rural America by building a strong economic foundation and creating good-paying jobs. As they develop their plan, the Blue Dogs want to hear from policy experts and from those who are experiencing the issues of our time on the ground. That’s why the Coalition has launched the Rural Opportunity Roundtable series, which began earlier this week with a discussion with local and tribal leaders about the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on their communities. This month, there will be discussions on several issues important to rural and tribal communities, including rural health care, access to mental health and addiction treatment, supporting small business and entrepreneurship, strengthening the outdoor economy, expanding access to education and workforce training, and more.
 
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