CARES Act Addresses Broadband, Local Government
Following are excerpts of the broadband-related funding provisions of the CARES Act:
- For an additional amount for ‘‘Salaries and Expenses’’, $200,000,000, to remain available until expended, to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally, including to support efforts of health care providers to address coronavirus by providing telecommunications services, information services, and devices necessary to enable the provision of telehealth services during an emergency period, as defined in section 1135(g)(1) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1320b–5(g)(1)): Provided, That the Federal Communications Commission may rely on the rules of the Commission under part 54 of title 47, Code of Federal Regulations, in administering the amount provided under the heading in this Act if the Commission determines that such administration is in the public interest.
- For an additional amount for grants under the pilot program established under section 779 of Public Law 115–141, to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, $100,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2021: Provided, That at least 90 percent of the households to be served by a project receiving a grant shall be in a rural area without sufficient access to broadband: Provided further, That for purposes of such pilot program, a rural area without sufficient access to broadband shall be defined as 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream, and such definition shall be reevaluated and redefined, as necessary, on an annual basis by the Secretary of Agriculture: Provided further, That an entity to which a grant is made under the pilot program shall not use a grant to overbuild or duplicate broadband expansion efforts made by any entity that has received a broadband loan from the Rural Utilities Service: Provided further, That priority consideration for grants shall be given to previous applicants now eligible as a result of adjusted eligibility requirements.
- For an additional amount for ‘‘Institute of Museum and Library Services’’, $50,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2021, to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, including grants to States, territories and tribes to expand digital network access, purchase internet accessible devices, and provide technical support services: Provided, That any matching funds requirements for States, tribes, libraries, and museums are waived for grants provided with funds made available under this heading in this Act.
- RURAL UTILITIES SERVICE 6 DISTANCE LEARNING, TELEMEDICINE, AND BROADBAND PROGRAM For an additional amount for ‘‘Distance Learning, Telemedicine, and Broadband Program’’, $25,000,000, to remain available until expended, to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally, for telemedicine and distance learning services in rural areas, as authorized by 7 U.S.C. 950aaa et seq.
In addition to the broadband-related funding, there is funding for States, Tribes and local governments for COVID-19-related costs:
- CORONAVIRUS RELIEF FUND. ‘‘(a) APPROPRIATION.— ‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—Out of any money in the Treasury of the United States not otherwise appropriated, there are appropriated for making payments to States, Tribal governments, and units of local government under this section, $150,000,000,000 for fiscal year 2020.” [Note: These funds can be used only to cover COVID-19-related costs that were not accounted for in the most recent budget of the unit of government, and were incurred between March 1, 2020, and December 30, 2020. A unit of local government with a population that exceeds 500,000 can apply directly to the Secretary of the Treasury for funds provided they meet the criteria described in the last sentence.]