Remote Learning Legislation Update

June 23, 2020

In mid-May I sent a summary of the federal legislative proposals that would provide funding for remote learning and provided detailed information on the SHLB, SECA, FFL proposal that would provide $5.25 billion to pay for laptops/devices, home connectivity and network security.  In all, nearly 2000 school and library officials signed on to the SHLB proposal, including several hundred from Pennsylvania, which was sent to Congressional leadership on June 11.

Until very recently, there was little legislative movement to report.  However, in the last few days there have been several positive developments that provide hope that a remote learning/homework gap initiative may become a reality in the next few months.

  • On June 18, Speaker Pelosi announced they were preparing to merge several typically unrelated bills into one massive “infrastructure” package, worth more than $1.5 trillion to pay for education, housing, clean water, broadband and more.  Specifically, she indicated there would be $100 billion for broadband that will “get us to 100 percent coverage.”
  • Also on June 18, House Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) released principles for a legislative framework to expand broadband access and digital opportunity and close the digital divide.  According to their press release, the framework would serve as a foundation for legislative efforts related to the COVID-19 economic recovery, modernizing the nation’s communications infrastructure, allowing all Americans, regardless of where they live, to participate in the digital economy, and enhancing US network security, reliability, and resiliency.  Specifically, one of the goals is to “Ensure that students have access to broadband and necessary technologies to complete their homework remotely.”  The framework principles can be found at:
  • The following day, FCC Chairman Pai sent a letter to Congress supporting legislation to ensure that “doctors, patients, students, teachers, low-income families… in short, all Americans – remain connected until this emergency ends.”
  • Today, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released nine policy principles aimed at closing America’s digital divide. The principles include policy recommendations for funding high-cost broadband, bridging the homework gap, expanding telehealth, and reducing permitting barriers to expand connectivity.  The policy principles were developed by C_TEC’s Telecommunications & E-Commerce Policy Committee, a group of 90 companies and trade associations representing wireless and wireline carriers, satellite providers, broadcasters, technology companies and other stakeholders.

While there’s no guarantee that any of these proposals will become law, the momentum seems to be building.

I’ll keep you updated.  Happy summer and continue to stay safe, everyone.

– Julie

Julie Tritt Schell
Pennsylvania E-rate Coordinator
717-730-7133 – o


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