May 07, 2021

Merkley, Wyden Announce $255,000 Federal Investment in Lincoln County Broadband Expansion

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced that the Economic Development Administration is investing $255,200 in broadband expansion projects in Lincoln County.

“As we set out to recover and rebuild in the wake of this pandemic, we need to make sure that every Oregonian—no matter where they live, where they work, or what they look like—has the tools they need to be healthy and thrive,” said Merkley. “Those tools must include access to telehealth services, job bulletins, virtual classrooms, and pertinent public health information, which is why I’ve been fighting to put broadband internet service within reach for all of our communities. I look forward to seeing the difference this grant will make in Lincoln County, and will continue to work to secure similar resources for every corner of our state.”

“Broadband for rural Oregon is as essential a piece of infrastructure now as electrification was decades ago for rural America,” said Wyden, who also is urging the FCC to make rural broadband a priority. “This federal investment in stronger internet links from the COVID relief package will allow Lincoln County to take a solid step toward connecting Oregonians to employment, education, healthcare and more. Rural broadband comes up as a topic often at my online town halls in rural Oregon counties, and I’ll keep working to respond to those concerns by battling to build more robust broadband links for communities in every nook and cranny of our state.”

The grant funding is being allocated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Merkley and Wyden voted to pass in 2020.

The senators have kept a steady drumbeat on the need to expand and protect broadband access by investing in broadband infrastructure long before, and throughout, the coronavirus crisis. In 2017, 2018, and 2019, Merkley used his position on the Appropriations subcommittee overseeing rural development to secure nearly $1.6 billion in funding to build broadband infrastructure across America, improving rural communities’ economies, health care, and quality of life.

In the last year, Merkley and Wyden led multiple letters urging the Trump administration to expand access to high-quality internet service. The senators also called on the CEOs of the eight major internet service providers to encourage them to suspend policies that limit Americans’ access to internet, and urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make it easier for communities to apply for broadband grants. In addition, Merkley led the introduction of the Continuing Online Networking, Negating Economic Conditions on Technology (CONNECT) At Home Actwhich Wyden joined—to institute a moratorium on service terminations by internet service and voice service providers during, and for 180 days after the conclusion of, the national state of emergency.

The senators have continued to build on their work in 2021, by working with their colleagues to introduce the Extending Tribal Broadband Priority Act of 2021, legislation to expand the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC's) 2.5 GHz Rural Tribal Priority Window to allow tribal nations and Native Hawaiian organizations the time they need to apply for spectrum licenses.