(Washington, D.C.) – On Tuesday, Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09), a longtime champion for veterans, continued his fight for our nation’s heroes by introducing H.R. 3995, the Improving Broadband Access for Veterans Act of 2017.
This bipartisan legislation, which is co-sponsored by Congressman Adam Kinzinger (IL-16), directs the Federal Communications Commission to produce a report examining the current state of veterans’ access to broadband and what can be done to increase access, with a focus on low-income veterans and those living in rural areas. The report must be completed within one year of the bill’s enactment and include findings and recommendations for Congress.
“California is home to more veterans than any other state and is the center for technological innovation,” said Rep. McNerney. “Broadband access will make a big difference for the more than 20 million veterans throughout our nation. Connectivity means increased job and educational opportunities and better access to VA resources, and the findings and recommendations required by this bill will set us on that path. I want to thank Congressman Kinzinger for his work on this bill and I look forward to other members joining this important effort.”
“Our veterans face many challenges when they return home, and closing the digital divide and getting connected is one way we can help alleviate part of their transition back to civilian life,” said Rep. Kinzinger. I’m proud to co-lead the Improving Broadband Access for Veterans Act, especially for those in rural areas or those unable to afford it. Broadband access will help our veterans connect with family and friends, apply for jobs, access information on benefits and health services, and so much more. I am proud to have worked with Congressman McNerney on this important legislation.”
Low-income veterans and veterans residing in rural areas are at a higher likelihood of not having broadband internet service. The U.S. Census Bureau and the Pew Research Center both report that broadband adoption rates are significantly lower among Americans who live at or below the federal poverty level. Analysis by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration at the U.S. Department of Commerce further finds that broadband adoption rates in rural areas of the country are lower than in urban areas.
A similar bill (S. 1950) has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Cory Booker (D-NJ).
“Access to broadband is essential for improving veterans’ transition to civilian life,” said Senator Blumenthal. “This bill will break down broadband accessibility hurdles facing veterans, and open the door for meaningful action to ensure veterans have the technological tools necessary to navigate civilian activities, services, and employment.”
“High-speed internet service is an essential tool, not a luxury, and we must make sure it’s easily accessible to veterans transitioning to civilian life,” said Senator Booker. “Our bill is an important step to helping improve broadband access for veterans, especially those in rural areas, who too often face steep challenges to getting online.”
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Rep. Jerry McNerney proudly serves the constituents of California’s 9th Congressional District that includes portions of San Joaquin, Contra Costa, and Sacramento Counties. For more information on Rep. McNerney’s work, follow him on Facebook and on Twitter @RepMcNerney.