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House Passes Latta Bill to Improve Internet Access in Rural Communities

Washington, December 16, 2019 | Rebecca Card (202.225.6405)

Today, the House of Representatives voted to pass a bipartisan bill introduced by Energy and Commerce Republican Leader of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH5), that works to ensure federal resources are appropriately allocated to communities that lack access to the internet.

Currently, our broadband maps are outdated and are oftentimes inaccurate, which causes federal funding to be dispensed to communities that do not need it and further builds a divide between communities that can access the internet and those that cannot. H.R. 4229, the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act, or the “Broadband DATA Act,” would improve broadband map accuracy so that federal resources can be distributed to communities that currently do not currently have the digital capabilities they need in order to keep pace with the rest of the country. 

Latta provided the following statement:

“Our country’s technological capabilities are revolutionizing the way Americans communicate and work with each other, but due to inaccuracies in our maps that identify where people can and cannot access the internet, some people are being left behind. The passage of this bill means more Americans, whether they live in urban, suburban, or rural communities, will be able to participate in our 21st century economy, because we will be able to better pinpoint where internet access is lacking so that funding can be appropriately dispersed to areas that need it most. I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to swiftly consider this bill so people across the country can engage in the digital age.”

The House of Representatives also voted to pass a bill Latta is an original co-sponsor of, H.R. 4227, the Mapping Accuracy Promotes Services Act, or the “MAPS Act,” which is the enforcement mechanism behind the Broadband DATA Act making it unlawful for an internet service provider to knowingly submit inaccurate broadband coverage data to the Federal Communications Commission.

Latta and Energy and Commerce Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) provided the following joint statement:

“The first step in expanding broadband to communities in America who lack adequate access is to understand exactly where those communities are. These bipartisan bills will help us assess the availability of internet across our country and take the necessary steps to improve connectivity for all Americans, regardless of their zip code. Importantly, these bills will help ensure we are not repeating past mistakes and are directing our limited resources to the communities who need them most. We look forward to swift action in the Senate to send these bipartisan bills to President Trump’s desk.”

Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH05) serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee as the Republican Leader on the Communications and Technology Subcommittee where he advocates for policies that help consumers, grow the economy and spur innovation. He also serves as an active member of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, which he previously chaired, and the Energy Subcommittee.

Congressman Latta has served on all six Energy and Commerce subcommittees. The Energy and Commerce Committee is the oldest standing legislative committee in the U.S. House of Representatives and is vested with the broadest jurisdiction of any congressional authorizing committee.

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