December 14, 2020

Senators Van Hollen, Markey, Bennet; Rep. Meng Applaud Inclusion of $3 Billion in E-rate Distance Learning Funding in Bipartisan Senate Coronavirus Proposal

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) today applauded inclusion of their legislation, the Emergency Educational Connections Act, and $3 billion in funding for the E-rate program in the bipartisan Senate coronavirus relief proposal. The lawmakers’ legislation funds elementary and secondary schools and libraries, including tribal schools and libraries, to provide Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and internet-enabled devices, including internet service through such equipment, to students, staff, and patrons. It would also allow schools and libraries to continue to use the equipment after the emergency period.

“We are pleased to see our legislation that funds K-12 distance learning included in this bipartisan coronavirus relief package,” said the lawmakers. “We cannot afford to wait another day to connect online our nation’s most vulnerable children to their educators and classmates and to ensure the ‘homework gap’ does not grow into a damaging learning gap as the pandemic continues. This $3 billion in E-rate funding is a strong down payment on ensuring all kids can continue to learn and develop throughout this health crisis.” 

The Emergency Educational Connections Act, introduced in May by Van Hollen and a group of 45 Democratic Senators, and by Rep. Meng in the House of Representatives, would appropriate at least $4 billion to be delivered through the E-Rate program to equip students with internet connectivity and devices during the ongoing pandemic. Since the E-Rate began nearly two decades ago, more than $52 billion has been committed nationwide to provide internet access for schools and libraries.