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Infrastructure package will fund high-speed internet throughout U.S.

The $1.2-trillion infrastructure bill passed by Congress over the weekend will upgrade U.S. roads, bridges and ports while making high-speed internet available throughout the nation, said President Biden. An estimated one-third of rural households lack access to the internet at what the White House described as minimally acceptable speeds.

Americans will see the effects of the bill “probably starting within the next two to three months” as funding flows to projects that are ready to go, said Biden on Saturday. He said the bill, passed by bipartisan votes of 69-30 in the Senate and 228-206 the House, would make the biggest investment in roads and bridges in 70 years.

The “once-in-a-generation” legislation would “create millions of jobs modernizing our infrastructure — our roads, our bridges, our broadband, a whole range of things — to turn the climate crisis into an opportunity,” said the president.

The bill included $550 billion in new funding for infrastructure, from roads and bridges to mass transit. Waterways and port infrastructure would get $17 billion and airports $25 billion.

Included in the bill was $65 billion to make high-speed internet service available throughout the nation.

Farm groups applauded the support for transport and broadband. “This bill strengthens our food supply chain as it makes tremendous, much-needed investments in the roads, bridges, dams and waterways that family farmers and ranchers depend on,” said president Rob Larew of the National Farmers Union. “This bill will make affordable broadband available to 19 million Americans who have lived offline.”

“We cannot afford to ignore the millions of miles of roadways, waterways and railways rural America relies on to keep our country fed, especially as we see widespread supply chain challenges,” said president Zippy Duvall of the American Farm Bureau Federation. ““Extending broadband to rural communities is just as much a priority. A quarter of America’s farm families have no high-speed internet access while working to meet the needs of a growing world.”

A White House fact sheet on the infrastructure bill is available here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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