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Republican lawmakers are fighting a Biden administration attempt to bring cheap broadband service to low-income people, claiming it is an illegal form of rate regulation. GOP leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced an investigation into the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is administering the $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program that was approved by Congress in November 2021.

“States have reported that the NTIA is directing them to set rates and conditioning approval of initial proposals on doing so. This undoubtedly constitutes rate regulation by the NTIA,” states a letter to the NTIA from Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Chair Bob Latta (R-Ohio), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-Va.).

As evidence, the letter points to a statement by Virginia that described feedback received from the NTIA. The federal agency told Virginia that “the low-cost option must be established in the Initial proposal as an exact price or formula.”

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