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Broadband internet is one area where Alabama could benefit from Biden infrastructure plan.

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The $1 trillion dollar infrastructure plan passed by the U.S. House, and awaiting President Biden’s signature, has money for roads, bridges, ports, rail transit, safe water, the power grid, and perhaps most importantly for Alabama-- broadband internet.

The package’s $65 billion dollars for broadband access would aim to improve internet services for rural areas, low-income families, and tribal communities. Most of the money would be made available through grants to states. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau puts Alabama 47th in the nation for broadband connectivity. 73% of the state population does not have access to an affordable broadband plan. Alabama was the only state in the Southeast without an official broadband plan. Governor Kay Ivey signed the Connect Alabama Act into law Thursday in a ceremony at the State Capitol. It creates a structure to drive broadband expansion throughout the state.

The infrastructure bill cleared the House on a 228-206 vote. The action ended weeks of intraparty negotiations in which liberal Democrats insisted the legislation be tied to a larger, $1.75 trillion social spending bill. Thirteen Republican House members voted in favor of the package, prompting backlash from other members of the party. None of Alabama’s GOP representatives joined the defections.

President Biden says he will hold a signing ceremony when lawmakers return from a week’s recess.

Editor's note— The Connect Alabama Act was signed in July. APR news regrets the error.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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