Joe Biden made a bold promise as a candidate in 2020 — that he'd expand broadband to every American. It's still early, but he made the pledge concrete by including it in his American Jobs Plan, which was his opening proposal in the quest for an infrastructure bill.
In his proposal, Biden compared the need for broadband Internet to the need to electrify the country generations earlier. He said he would "bring affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband to every American, including the more than 35% of rural Americans who lack access to broadband at minimally acceptable speeds."
Specifically, Biden would spend $100 billion to extend broadband infrastructure in underserved areas, prioritizing support for networks affiliated with local governments, nonprofit groups, and cooperatives.
He also proposed increased transparency and competition among internet providers and opened the door to subsidizing individual users who could not otherwise afford access, but the proposal did not include details.
So far, Biden has introduced only a broad outline of legislation he'd like to see; there is no formal bill yet. And passing legislation — which may or may not ultimately include money for broadband expansion — promises to be a heavy lift.
In fact, bipartisan negotiations over the American Jobs Plan have so far struggled to produce a workable agreement, amid concerns expressed by Republicans that the program costs too much. And in the Senate, support from 60 senators would be required to advance to a final vote, unless Democrats can find a way to pass a measure using the reconciliation process, which requires only a simple majority.
Still, the inclusion of this promise in a high-profile presidential initiative is enough to move it to In the Works.