September 27, 2023

The Biden administration’s $42.5 billion high-speed internet program favors heavily Democrat regions and remote vacation homes, including President Joe Biden’s home state of Delaware, according to a new report by Republicans on the Senate Commerce Committee. 

The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program, known as BEAD, designated as “unserved” locations places that include mansions, beachfront resort communities, and mountain vacation homes, the report says.

“Unserved” locations also include areas of Washington, D.C., close to the Smithsonian Institution. 

“Although the unprecedented $42.45 billion in BEAD funding should be more than sufficient to bring broadband connectivity to every last household and business in America, the country cannot achieve this goal if the Biden administration wastes money through unnecessary, duplicative spending and anti-competitive, anti-consumer technology bias,” the report by committee Republicans says

A federal agency, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, already has distributed the $42.5 billion.

The Senate report states:

Specifically, taxpayer dollars should not be used to: 

1) Overbuild areas that already have broadband service or are slated to receive support from other federal or state programs. 

2) Fund unnecessarily expensive solutions. The administration’s technology bias is not only inconsistent with the text of the law but is likely to lead to overspending at the expense of connecting unserved communities. 

The report found that the Biden administration’s broadband program provided 10 states and territories with more than $10,000 per unserved location—including $547,254 per unserved location in the nation’s capital and $52,000 per unserved location in Delaware. 

Delaware, Biden’s home state, got about $108 million in broadband aid for 2,166 “unserved” locations in June. 

“One of these locations is the Biden Environmental Training Center … a state-run conference, training, and retreat center situated just 11 miles north of Rehoboth Beach,” the report says. 

One of the president’s vacation homes is in Rehoboth Beach. 

Of the 184 locations deemed to be lacking broadband in the nation’s capital, 58 are near the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. This includes well-traveled areas in the District of Columbia such as Butterfly Garden, Lion-Tiger Hill, and Otter Pond, according to the report.

The Senate report found duplication, noting that more than 5 million locations already were being funded by other federal programs for similar purposes. 

Democrats’ Bipartisan Infrastructure Law set out how states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico would be allocated funding, including a guaranteed minimum of $100 million to every state, according to the Commerce Department, which oversees the broadband program.

“Just like [President] Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Rural Electrification Act brought electricity to nearly every home and farm in America, the Biden-Harris administration is connecting everyone in America to reliable, affordable high-speed internet by the end of the decade—including Americans in rural communities,” a Commerce Department spokesperson told The Daily Signal in a written statement on the issue Friday, adding:

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides the largest investment in internet expansion in history—including a minimum $100 million budget for each state—and requires funding go to the areas that need it most. Ultimately, states will determine the specific locations that receive funding and are required to account for other state and federal funding commitments to avoid duplication of efforts.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, wrote in the summary of the report that $42 billion is more than enough money to deliver broadband to every American.”

Yet Cruz was skeptical that the tens of billions could be spent effectively on broadband improvements.

“Will it succeed in doing so? In light of these findings, count me skeptical,” Cruz wrote. “This report should serve as a call to action for the Biden administration and the states to ensure BEAD dollars are not funneled to duplicative and wasteful purposes, and instead are used to solve the nation’s connectivity challenges once and for all.” 

The report also says that the Biden administration has a “technology bias” against nonfiber broadband and discourages what the committee Republicans say would be cost-effective and serve more areas.  

This story was updated within an hour of publication to include a comment from a Commerce Department spokesperson.

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