WASHINGTON—President Biden aims to spend $100 billion to close gaps in the nation’s broadband network, calling affordable high-speed internet connections critical for modern households but leaving central details of the plan up in the air.
The White House’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal released Wednesday includes the goal of connecting every U.S. home and business while also cutting prices for internet access, dubbing broadband the “new electricity” in its societal importance. Reliable internet service has become more critical over the past year, as many Americans were forced to work, attend school and entertain themselves at home because of the pandemic.
“We’ll make sure every single American has access to high quality affordable high-speed internet,” said Mr. Biden in a speech Wednesday. “We’re going to drive down the price for families who have service now and make it easier for families who don’t have affordable service to be able to get it now.”
Expanding broadband coverage has support in both parties on Capitol Hill, but Republicans say that wrapping it into an infrastructure proposal full of other Democratic priorities is the wrong approach. Some Republicans have also expressed concern about the size of the proposed broadband spending and the broader package, which would be paid for by an increase in corporate taxes.
“There is widespread bipartisan support for increasing access to high-speed internet, particularly in rural areas,” said a Senate Republican aide familiar with recent bipartisan negotiations. “There is zero bipartisan support for tying this overwhelmingly popular issue to a massive tax increase on American businesses still reeling from a once-in-a-century pandemic.”