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[vc_column_text]A Statement from Brenda Victoria Castillo President & CEO, National Hispanic Media Coalition
After weeks of negotiations, today the Senate passed the long-awaited infrastructure package, making critical investments into our economy and families — particularly for broadband. The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) commends the Senate for working across the aisle to support struggling households by prioritizing affordability and closing the digital divide.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed, internet access is essential to our everyday lives for education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. While we hope to see the end of the pandemic soon, Latinx and BIPOC communities remain vulnerable to higher infection rates, face significant vaccination barriers, and continue to experience the pandemic’s destructive economic effects as the Delta variant runs rampant. Investing in digital equity for communities, like ours, is key to surviving and recovering from this pandemic, and will set up future generations for success and mobility. It is increasingly clear that an investment in broadband is a crucial investment into the people of our country, and we applaud the Senate for recognizing this.
As the infrastructure package now heads to the House of Representatives, NHMC urges Members of Congress to preserve provisions crucial to closing the digital divide, and protecting the digital rights of Latinx. Among these provisions is $2.75 billion in funding for the Digital Equity Act, $42 billion for broadband deployment, and an additional $14.2 billion in funding for the Affordable Connectivity Fund, currently known as the Emergency Broadband Benefit. This benefit, established just last December, marked a historical broadband victory, and within the past three months it has already helped over 4 million households access affordable home broadband service. By reserving additional funding and extending the longevity of the benefit, we can secure greater and more affordable connectivity for more Latinx families who need it.
While passage of this legislation in the Senate chamber is cause for celebration, the fight is not over. Once the House returns from recess, extensive support and cooperation will be necessary to ensure that this progress is carried through to the President's desk. NHMC encourages House members to invest in closing the digital divide for Latinx and BIPOC communities, and to work swiftly to move this package along.
Yours in the Movement,
Brenda Victoria Castillo
President & CEO
National Hispanic Media Coalition