Luján Participates in Broadband Hearing, Shares Homework Gap Story from New Mexico

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), a member of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, participated in a full committee hearing on the importance of expanding resilient, redundant, and secure broadband infrastructure and bridging the digital divide in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Luján stressed the importance of reaching 100 percent connectivity of fast and affordable internet across the United States.

VIDEO: Luján Shares Student’s Experience, Questions Witnesses

“Recently, Kimball Sekaquaptewa, who is the Chief Technology Officer at the Santa Fe Indian School and a member of the New Mexico Homework Gap Team recently shared a story with me. Back in August, in New Mexico … it is still very hot. In one particular Tribal community, the school was delivering 100 percent distance learning, as in most parts of America, and we know that a lot of homes still lack access to fast internet or any internet at all. There was a student in middle school, in junior high, trying to do his best which meant sitting out in the sun all day to connect to Wi-Fi. He was there so long that he got heat stroke, trying to complete his assignments,” Luján shared.  

“The American Rescue Plan’s temporary E-Rate support for Wi-Fi hotspots and connected devices is an important stopgap,” Luján continued. “However, I believe that Congress must mobilize to advance long-term solutions that bring resilient, redundant, and secure broadband into every home … That’s where we need to get to in America.”

Last week, Senator Luján introduced a broadband package to bridge the digital divide, including legislation to provide E-Rate Support for School Bus Wi-Fi to help close the homework gap while students travel on their daily school bus routes. Additionally, he introduced the Broadband Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (BIFIA) to authorize $5 billion in federal funding to create a program that makes low-interest financing available for broadband infrastructure deployment projects.



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