The lack of rural broadband throughout Indiana has been highlighted during this COVID-19 pandemic as students had to do e-learning and adults were asked to work from home.
“Broadband is so important. It connects us to the world. It helps with economic development. It’s a tool that every state and every community needs, and yet, in rural areas, it’s been promised forever and, you know, baby steps when it comes to delivering,” says Indiana Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN 2nd District).
She says she feels the pain of those without broadband access.
“Get this- so I live in a rural area. I’m a member of Congress. I have to be able to be virtual constantly, for hours at a time, and I can’t even do that from my house anymore. I have to go into another building close to my office in Mishawaka to have a strong enough signal to even do my job. I mean, that is just such a shame. I think it’s crazy.”
Walorski says that before COVID, there was a mutual momentum between Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate to move on an infrastructure bill that would include money for rural broadband. She and Indiana Congressman Jim Banks (R-IN 3rd District) are still both holding out hope for an infrastructure package this year.
“Whatever the next relief bill looks like, I’m hoping that it’ll be an infrastructure related bill. That’s what I’ve been pushing for. When it comes to infrastructure, a key component of infrastructure should be rural broadband,” says Banks. “So, I made it clear to my leadership, I’m not going to support anything moving forward, especially an infrastructure bill, that doesn’t include a major boost for rural broadband as a key component.”
Walorski and Banks both addressed corn and soybean growers last week via a webinar hosted by the Indiana Soybean Alliance and the Indiana Corn Growers Association.