WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, as well as co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, continued her efforts to tackle West Virginia’s broadband challenges by introducing legislation.
Most recently, Senator Capito introduced the Rural Broadband Protection Act, which would require a more thorough vetting and verification process for internet service providers seeking to participate in the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) high-cost programs.
Capito on the Rural Broadband Protection Act:
“This legislation expands on my broadband efforts, and is a product of many discussions I’ve had with small rural service providers and local leaders in my state. These discussions made it abundantly clear the FCC needs congressional direction to ensure taxpayer money is being used properly to fund broadband deployment in rural areas.”
Learn more about the legislation here. For a video statement from Senator Capito on the legislation, click here.
Senator Capito also joined a bipartisan group—led by U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.)—to reintroduce the Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act. The legislation would amend the Internal Revenue Code to ensure funding for broadband deployment from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) will not be considered taxable income.
Senator Capito on the Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act:
“When Congress funded grant programs to help deploy broadband in underserved states like West Virginia, it was intended for all of those funds to be used for exactly that purpose – for broadband deployment. Taxing federal broadband grants as gross income undermines our intent for these programs and would further delay efforts to close the digital divide in areas that need broadband connectivity the most.”
Rural Broadband Protection Act:
The FCC’s high-cost programs provide funding to telecom carriers to provide service in rural areas where the market alone cannot support the substantial cost of deploying network infrastructure and providing connectivity. Historically, it has subsidized voice service to ensure that rates in rural and urban areas are reasonably comparable. But with a series of reform orders that began in 2011, the FCC is modernizing the high-cost program to support broadband to ensure that all people in America – no matter where they live – have access to robust, affordable connectivity to fully participate in today’s society.
This modernized program is called the Connect America Fund, and it consists of a series of new funds that rely on incentive-based models and competitive bidding to award carriers a set amount of support to build out broadband to a defined number of locations in unserved and underserved areas.
For bill text, click here.
For a one-pager on the legislation, click here.
Broadband Grant Tax Treatment Act:
Grants awarded for the purposes of broadband deployment are currently factored into a company’s income and are subject to taxation. This bipartisan legislation moves to exclude broadband deployment grants awarded through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) from an organization’s income, ensuring the entirety of federal dollars awarded to companies for the purpose of deploying broadband around the country can be used wholly for that purpose, rather than making their way back to the government through taxes.
Full text of the legislation is available here.
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