What They Are Saying: Broad-Based Bipartisan Momentum for Urgent Action to Bridge the Digital Divide

Leaders in Both Parties, Editorial Boards and Advocates Agree Congress Must Provide Broadband Deployment And Adoption Resources to Connect Every American Community

Local, state and federal officials from across the political spectrum, advocacy groups representing Americans of all backgrounds and editorial boards around the nation agree now is the time for Congress to take decisive action to close the digital divide.

As lawmakers negotiate final details of a bipartisan infrastructure package, the momentum has never been greater for Congress to provide the broadband deployment and adoption resources to make connectivity a reality for every American community.

Here’s a snapshot of what leaders from both sides of the aisle, editorial boards and advocacy groups have recently said about the urgency for action to bridge the digital divide:

President Biden

U.S. President Joe Biden:

“[Broadband] isn’t a luxury, it’s now a necessity, like water and electricity.”

U.S. Senate

Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS):

“The pandemic has made internet access more vital than ever as Americans are relying on broadband services to work, learn, and connect with loved ones.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN):

“When we invest in broadband infrastructure, we invest in opportunity for all Americans. In 2021, we should be able to bring high-speed internet to every family in America – regardless of their zip code.”

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH):

“Too many rural and low-income communities in Ohio and across the U.S. lack affordable and reliable access to broadband. In a time when more and more people communicate, learn, and work over the internet, it has never been more important to ensure every community has quality access to broadband.”

Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO):

“We shouldn’t accept a country where any American is shut out of the 21st century broadband infrastructure they need to compete and thrive.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY):

“We want to make broadband the same as access to water, access to electricity – that it’s a human right for all Americans. And so to do that, we need to invest on a much larger scale, and so this infrastructure bill is that opportunity to do a robust investment in broadband.”

Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV):

“Kids shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll be able to keep up with their assignments, interact with their teachers, or have access to the same online tools their peers have just because they aren’t able to use the internet.”

Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA):

“Access to broadband has become an indispensable utility expense for households across Georgia, especially following this once-in-a-century pandemic…All Georgians–regardless of income or zip code–should have reliable access to broadband to remain connected to their school, their job, and their community.”

Senator John Thune (R-SD):

“Access to high-speed broadband services is critical, now more than ever before… I strongly support finding common-sense ways to effectively and efficiently deliver reliable broadband services to Americans who need it.”

Senator Angus King (I-ME):

“The coronavirus pandemic has made it clear that broadband is essential infrastructure. Over the last year-plus, Americans of all backgrounds have relied on the internet to work, learn, shop and stay connected to their loved ones – but at the same time, far too many of our citizens could not access these opportunities.”

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME):

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a renewed urgency to ensuring families have a reliable connection to their loved ones, co-workers, schools, and medical services. From spurring job creation to supporting telemedicine, access to high-speed Internet unlocks almost endless benefits and possibilities.”

U.S. House of Representatives

Representative Jim Clyburn (D-SC-06):

“Access to broadband today will have the same dramatic impact on rural communities as the rural electrification efforts in the last century.”

Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA-05) and Bob Latta (R-OH-05):

“Millions of Americans across the country lack access to reliable broadband. This has been especially devastating for countless families during the pandemic. Many children have lost an entire school year and counting with no access to remote learning tools. For some parents, unreliable connection at home meant forgoing work to spend hours driving around looking for internet they and their children could connect to. Closing the digital divide will unleash economic opportunities for everyone–from small business owners, entrepreneurs, and working moms.”

Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ-06):

“With nearly 17 million children across the country without Internet access, many students are being locked out of the virtual classroom…. The COVID-19 pandemic sped up the transition to virtual learning, but it will remain a crucial tool for parents and teachers alike long after the pandemic is over. I will continue to work to ensure that access to broadband and technology is no longer a barrier to learning for any student.”

Representative Kelly Armstrong (R-ND-at-large):

“The pandemic has proven that access to reliable broadband infrastructure is essential for thousands of North Dakotans across the state.”


Mayors Woodfin (Birmingham, AL), Lumumba (Jackson, MS), Scott, Jr. (Little Rock, AK), Reed (Montgomery, AL), and Perkins (Shreveport, LA):

“Across Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama, one-fifth of our populations live in households without Internet. This handicaps our states, creating a systemic disadvantage for families, entrepreneurs and especially school-age children. Before the pandemic, an estimated 70 percent of teachers assigned homework requiring Internet access. That number has risen as classrooms have gone virtual, and more children will be left behind if we don’t invest now.”

U.S. Conference of Mayors:

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework is crucial to making meaningful progress on one of the most pressing and unifying challenges facing our country – the need for comprehensive investment in public transportation; roads; bridges; passenger and freight rail; drinking water and wastewater; clean energy and electrification; legacy pollution cleanup; cyber-attack and extreme weather-resiliency; and universal broadband access.”

Editorial Boards

Seattle Times Editorial Board:

“Too many people across the country are left behind because they don’t have reliable, affordable access to the internet. … Our reliance on digital platforms hasn’t lessened with the gradual resumption of in-person activities. In fact, there’s every reason to believe the digital shift is here to stay. That’s why it’s more important than ever to close the gap.”

Los Angeles Times Editorial Board:

“At issue too is how to provide broadband to the millions of Americans who can’t afford it… As important as it is to bring broadband service to areas that have none, we can’t ignore the parts of the country stuck with inadequate networks built for the days before widespread video streaming, videoconferencing, telemedicine and virtual offices… The $65 billion proposed for broadband in the bipartisan framework is a good starting point. But it needs to be spent the right way.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board:

“The pandemic exposed in the most dramatic ways possible why internet service today is almost as crucial to modern life as gas or electricity… The problem with that premise is that getting broadband to unserved rural areas is a lot more expensive than expanding it in urban areas where it already exists. And the latter provides more bang for the buck, since some 13.6 million urban households lack internet service, while just 4.6 million rural households lack it… Ultimately, the goal should be to bring affordable service to every nook in America, urban and rural, and this is only a first step toward that goal.”

The Washington Post Editorial Board:

“The internet is no longer a luxury but a necessity, and President Biden’s infrastructure plan reflects that reality. Lawmakers generally understand that to get the whole country connected, they’ll have to make service more available as well as more affordable… Treating broadband as infrastructure is the right approach, yet for the investment to pay off, we must build more than wires.”

Leading Advocates

Vickie Robinson, General Manager, Microsoft Airband Initiative:

“The reality is that we suffered a pandemic that is particularly acute in urban centers where people have access but were not adopting. Affordability is a huge issue, not only in urban centers but also in rural areas. Once you get access, you’re still not guaranteed that people will actually adopt services.” – 7/7/21

Tom Ferree, Chairman & CEO, Connected Nation:

“Millions of Americans are still struggling with everything from remote work to distance learning to telehealth simply because they lack the access to internet they need.” 5/12/21

John Windhausen, Executive Director, Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition (SHLB):

“The devastating COVID-19 pandemic brought to light significant shortcomings in our broadband capabilities and policies. Nearly 17 million students cannot learn outside of the classroom because they lack internet access at home. Parents who lost their jobs are unable to access the online career resources they need to get back to work. Patients without broadband cannot get the virtual health care.”

Janet Murguia, President and CEO, UnidosUS:
“From school and work, to paying bills and seeking telehealth services, reliable internet is a modern necessity – like water and electricity. Consequently, the lack of internet connectivity has far-reaching implications for equity, racial justice, economic opportunity, healthcare, education, and workforce development, especially for communities of color and low-income communities.”

Allen Pratt, Executive Director, National Rural Education Association:

“A big part of change needed in rural communities is we’ve got to level the playing field. If we do that for students, you’ll see amazing things happening in rural communities. But first, we have to give them the necessary tools so they can meet educational challenges and be the next creators and innovators to lead our country.”

Maria Town, President and CEO, American Association of People with Disabilities:

“Not having internet connectivity at home has prevented too many people from performing daily duties, and the impact this has had on the disability community has been even more restrictive. Disability and poverty often go hand-in-hand, and many people with disabilities that lack high-speed broadband service, internet browsing devices, and digital literacy training face intersecting disparities that only perpetuate unequal opportunity and the pattern of inaccessibility these communities historically have faced.”

Ryan Yates, Managing Director of Public Policy, American Farm Bureau Federation:

“A reliable and speedy broadband connection is also critical to farmers’ use of precision agriculture to farm as sustainably and efficiently as possible. Without high-speed internet, farmers cannot collect key data or analyze it to determine the exact amount of fertilizer to apply, how much water their crops need, or the precise amount of herbicides or pesticides they should use.”

Marc H. Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that a broadband internet connection in the home is no longer a nicety; it is a necessity and is a matter of civil and human rights and economic justice.”

Betsy Huber, President, National Grange:

“Getting more Americans online is not a partisan issue; there is overwhelming support on both sides of the aisle to close the digital divide and remove barriers to deployment for all communities. But the window to facilitate effective, long-term investment is rapidly closing. It is time for Congress to enact legislation to modernize our federal broadband programs in a manner that meets the long-term needs of unserved communities.”

Sindy M. Benavides, CEO, League of United Latin American Citizens:

“Over 35% of Latino families still lack access to quality broadband. As our world becomes more and more digital, affordable internet access is needed to expand the economic opportunities for our community to thrive. We need a permanent solution so that any family can access the internet without having to sacrifice food or other necessities. The time is now.”

Join our fight to bring broadband to all rural Americans. Tell Washington to take action to bridge the digital divide now!