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tv   Discussion on Broadband in Rural African American Communities  CSPAN  July 30, 2021 12:09pm-1:06pm EDT

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he gave that up over 15 years ago to write history. his first book was about the constitutional convention in philadelphia called the "summer of 1787." that was in 2008. he wrote about the trial of andrew johnson and then aaron burr and james madison, he looks at george washington and in david stewart's words. >> historian and listen at c-span. org. south carolina clyburn and s.e.c. talk about expanding broadband.
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the joint center of political and economic studies. >> thank you barbara, it is a pleasure to be on this panel to talk about our forth coming report, affordability and availability expanding broadband in the south. to better understand it, the rural counties is 35% or higher. plaque people make 49.2% of the region's population and make up the largest racial group. we collected data that were part of the plaque belt to understand the characteristics relative to other parts of the nation. we uncovered that 38% of plaque americans in the black rural south lack internet access.
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high-speed broadband is not available to some house hoaltd because the service has not been deployed by an internet service provider and where it is available some low-income households lack access because the service is not affordable. national broadband conversations focused on rural america can play -- give not enough attention. we understand african american-americans is a problem in metro and rural areas. and today, we want to connect more residents in the black rural south as the infrastructure debates continue. i want to up discussion to our panelists. thank you for being here. i want to start off with congressman james clyburn. thank you for being on our panel today. congressman james clyburn, can
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you give us a quick overview with the bipartisan infrastructure package as it relates to expansion of broadband? mr. clyburn: i suspect you should be able to tune into c-span and you know the last several hours, things are occurring in the senate. they are currently trying to proceed with these negotiations. and that vote i suspect will be over soon and we'll know where they are going. my activity has been to coordinate with the bipartisan group in the senate to make sure that whatever they do include what we have been pushing with
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regard to accessible and affordable broadband legislation. it is 95 billion bill. senator cloa klobuchar has been pushing that bill. we'll see. see if it is a bipartisan bill and we'll know where to go from there. so if they were to proceed to vote, i'm sure they got the votes to pass it. you see what's left on the table so we'll know how to proceed and in subsequent legislation. as i understand it, the bill they are voting on or may vote on is a $65 billion bill, which is $30 billion short of where we think it ought to be. >> thank you so much,
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congressman. in our report we talk about the unique challenges facing black communities in the black rural south, when you think about your constituents what do you think about the lack of broadband services in south carolina? mr. clyburn: as you can imagine covid-19 revealed some significant let's just say disrepair that exists. i often talk about the notion "democracy in america." he said it is not great but rather because it is trying to repair its faults. fault lines were opened by covid-19 and that place in the lack of broadband. because of the lack of
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connectivity under 38% of black communities in the rural south are connected to the broadband. high-speed broadband is what is needed if we are going to have health care effectively delivered. try to deliver health without telehealth and telemedicine. i can tell you that we in certain places in the south, there is a full surge now coming about. it's in basically states like louisiana and south carolina and georgia and florida, the southern states. and if that were to happen, we would see children losing another year of school. and what happens to an eighth and ninth grader if they are out
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of school for two years. we cannot have continued education by them without broadband. broadband to me is to the south today what like that was in the 20th century. >> thank you so much, congressman, especially those important topics on education and health. i want to talk it over to commissioner stark. millions of americans don't have access to broadband either because it is not available or can't afford it. the benefit was developed to help families struggling to afford internet service during the covid-19 pandemic but only temporary. can you share your perspectives what they must do to expand internet to low-income
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americans? >> thank you, first of all for allowing me to be here today and we're all watching the olympics and i'm on a break through with this panel today. i'm honored to join this august group. congratulations for the joint center for the work that you are doing on several fronts including tech policy. as you all work to center and empower those voices. and the focus on broadband has never been more important. the national urban league with their plan, to robert smith, to my predecessor on the commission, there have never been so many powerful leaders who have come around this issue.
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and why is that? it impacts nearly all of the fundamental aspects of our lives. our ability to access telemedicine and good paying jobs. for those small businesses, ability to sustain themselves and get their legs back underneath them. and even registering to vote in 40 states can be done online and this is crucial. i have long said to bring the benefits of broadband to every american, policy makers need to focus on first expanding broadband infrastructure, as we just heard. the second is to ensure that
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broadband is affordable for all and empower americans with digital skills. and the coronavirus pandemic has caused upheaval particularly plaque americans. the emergency broadband benefit to low-income families, $50 on their bill can be life changing for households across the country. the program is temporary and need to effectuate a
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affordability solution and we need people to know that they can trust these programs. and that's what the permanent affordability and need to rely on people in the community. schools, churches libraries all have to remain engaged in the way to spread the news about these programs about lifelines. and last thing, i saw a couple of examples on these community partnerships when i took a tour of alabama and georgia. before the pandemic i was in rural randolph county, georgia, over 2 1/2 hours away from alabama. i saw staysee abrams. to install snet service for community members to participate in the online census and get
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jobs and i stopped in selma, alabama and visited the housing authority to discuss an initiative of bringing free broadband to children in low-income housing, george washington carver homes. and i heard from a mother of three who said her life was transformed by the program and completed her online assignments to get a job. and that is broadband for the people. >> there is a picture about how important broadband subsidy program is. i want to remine our audience members, drop it in the question and answer. i want to turn it over next to former f.c.c. commissioner
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clyburn. you spent nearly nine years at the federal communication commission working on these issues. how should they be working with i.s.p. and low-income communities get connected to broadband? >> i really want to set the stage as what you do and how you have been incredibly helpful. i see ourselves at this intersection of broadband opportunity of hope. what the pandemic has made especially clear is broadband is availability, access and adoption, a soarm determinant of
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education, civic engagement, economic opportunities and more. it is being noticed and being noticed at a time that is most critical. no sector of our economy that is untouched or not impacted by broadband connectivity or the lack of it. we may disagree on many things but this is undeniable. more than 31% of rural americans compared to 4% of the urban counterparts do not have access to high-speed internet. and according to another think tank in the d.c. metro area, if you were to look the f.c.c. form which looks has data and back in
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2014 and 27% of the people of color live in unserved areas. and if you were to look at the broadband deserts, the lack of availability of high-speed or access to the brett. 39.3%, they live in poverty. there is a direct correlation. this is lack of critical again where we are critically. the f.c.c. mandate is more important than ever before and to ensure that telecommunication services are being deployed regardless of where we live and how much money we make in a reasonable and timely fashion. too many of our areas have been
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short changed so here is what i believe, if you believe that broadband is a social determinant, then we should push the f.c.c. to revamp that lifeline. it has been starved for a number of years and demonized for more years but it is critical to break the affordability gap who can't even broadband. a proponent of the emergency broadband becoming. the lifeline program is that lifeline for those who have issues when it comes to authority. we should not be arguing about the f.c.c. when it comes to its rules and regulations being
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targeted, that being more intent. pushing those companies, almost $9 billion to deploy broadband and enable services to our communities. no sector of our government including the needs of people that cannot be intent with safe, reliable, fast and affordable.
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the state and local governments, philanthropic and too many of our communities have two or fewer broadband providers and serve two or fewer. that means there are fewer opportunities, higher costs and fewer options. who can participate in these auctions where there can be another competitive provider that can offer. right now the way it is set up, only the big big guys. every single dollar goes to
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areas of need and make sure that every single dollar is meeting the needs and objectives in connecting our communities and would need to be able to participate and improve their lives in the 21st century. these dollars should flow and come with conditions. come with robust conditions and accountability to me is key and meeting our goals and objectives of connecting in areas so individuals can thrive or the infrastructure that they have in place or the environments that might be lacking from an educational standpoint, health care standpoint and economic empowerment standpoint, broadband is the greatest
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equalizer i know when it comes to addressing unmet needs. >> thank you commissioner clyburn especially around issues. you are from well-being. what economic opportunities exist in connecting black communities to broadband? >> the opportunities that do not exist. just by the very nature. by way of infrastructure and transportation and other opportunities. we know that -- we talked about the 60 million children that lack internet connection when the pandemic hit and could not
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go to school in person. i could not help but think of my home state where that 30% is well over 50% of the students that didn't have access to broadband. when i looked at this research back in 2018 that shows just 20% of plaque students had the reading level of comprehension compared to 60% of white students. when you see that and medical professionals leaving the area for greener pastures because the infrastructure is not that, when you make that link, because it is linked when it comes to poor reading skills, comprehension skills, poor health outcomes, all of that leads to an economic
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opportunity grap that currently we are not doing the best job, but broadband enables a future. that if we are -- broadband into the next, then a lot of these issues and challengees that we have by way of infrastructure, educational -- the lack of educational opportunities can be rooted -- they can be rooted in these rural areas where african american-americans live and there are large sectors of african americans who are economically and opportunity-wide. break the cycle. broadband has to be part of the mix and the f.c.c., it was
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commissioner stark. it has an incredible role to play, more critical role to play and with the band width has a critical role to play. >> i want to talk about what is happening at the state and local levels. there will be an influx of money for states to address broadband in local communities. southern states prioritize expansion in the black rural south counties. can you talk about the solutions that have been deployed? >> thank you for having this panel and i feel like i'm like a tech titan. i haven't had the decades of
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experience like my panelists but when i think about all the time, i run into local leaders, at churches and schools. there are a lot of things i want to make sure we touch on and expand on what are some of the things we need to see from local leadership. some of the work that's coming out of your report specifically talking about -- and i know you will expand on it, i want to make sure we are having this conversation that some of this about who has access to broadband is by design. some of the places that we're struggling with and healthy food
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or clean water are seeing the same issue with the 21st century broadband. without blame or shame, it's important to ground this in historical reference that part of the issues we are fighting in the marketplace were there by design. we need to be authentic and up front that we need to make room at the table for new voices. and that means being able to acknowledge that good ideas, some of the most innovative solutions are going to come from people that are as diverse as the communities that they serve. when we are talking about improving broadband access in black rural communities, it's not just improving it for them. it improves the local economies and quality of life for all the communities that they touch. when we talk about these issues, i don't want it to seem we are focused on improving the quality of life for african americans
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but looking to empower some of the disenfranchised voices to replicate that success. some of your research focuses on the lack of access to broadband impacts education. but as former commissioner clyburn mentioned this goes into generational wealth. how she are able to participate in a digital the importance of what we are doing, it is the you are againsty of now. it is hard when i talk to local leaders who feel they have been excluded from the table, they don't know where to start and they don't have the resources to do the ambitious products that they want. it is upon all of us to make
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sure we are creating pathways for them to participate in the policy and honor their stories and need to tell the challenges in their own words without coloring them but giving them an opportunity to say this is what i need and how you can help. when we are talking about the digital divide and we cannot separate this. poverty in the united states is always a dirty word and stained and if you were outside the united states but here in the united states and you are poor it's because you didn't try hard enough. when we are talking about the digital died whenever you find the poverty, you will find the digital divide. households are struggling with
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broadband access. what are we doing to make sure they not only get that first subscription but they are able to maintain it, a robust and reliable connection in a sustainable way and have the digital preparedness and the literacy in their homes to be able to use those computers. it is important when we are talking about those things to say all of these obstacles are going to take more than one agency or one group tackling it. there is a part for everyone at the local level over the past year. and supporting local leaders who are improving broadband access. they are tasked with coming up with immediate solutions but don't know how to get in line.
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when resources are coming out of the federal budget, the place get in line and the places that are locked out are not going to know where to sign up. we need to be adpres i have in our outreach and making sure we are reaching out to people outside our orbit and too often tech policy circles are designed to be exclusive by saying you don't have enough tenure. and what you need to be able to acknowledge is there are solutions happening across the country that are far outside washington d.c. the consortium in michigan is where you have scholarship, local grit and local leaders who are working to create broadband solutions. in the state of washington in mount vernon, you have a mayor
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who signed up to give other mayors support when they are coming up with their own broadband plan. the other municipalities around them were reaching out for advice. what we know is when you have local leaders and community leaders empowered, that is something that is contagious and touches everyone outside their region. look at lafayette, louisiana, 10 years ago improved the quality of service when they couldn't get what they needed. they decided to do it and now serving as a role model and helping people. i offer these things as examples because there are hundreds of them and count less communities that no agency in the conversation.
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so i encourage everyone who is on this, not views the people on this panel to make room on at your table, because there are great ideas and all sorts of thought leaders. >> thank you for making it plain and painting a picture of what local leaders are doing to connect more communities. in the same way, i would love to hear your thoughts of what you are hearing and how congress needs to connect residents. >> people are asking for resources. and that is something municipalities do not have the resources to launch the type of programs that they need. one of the things we do encourage local leaders to make sure that their financial assessments are not only falls into a balance sheet but the human capital and the potential
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partnerships. during covid in particular, we have a host of local leaders that partnered with local providers of all sizes, large and small to expand broadband to communities that maybe were hard to reach or unserved completely. some of them have made end roads in being able to do ongoing collaborations with schools because especially in rural areas not only hcbu's but hispanic colleges and community colleges, there are lots of local community college institutions could be a hub to expand that networking. >> actually the larger report we talk about the importance of hcbu's and see the ways in which they will partner with black nonprofits to provide more broadband services and training
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services for the local communities. i want to talk it over to commissioner stark, in our report we patriotic a recommendation based upon your ideas that providers who receive funds to provide consumers with an affordable option, can you share more about the importance of this proposal. >> that's a great question and again you have to start with the premise that we need to solve challenges to bring connectivity to folks that find themselves unconnected and in particular with regard to rural areas we are talking about here today. i was gob smacked upon careful study that when we pay billions of dollars through our high service fund to subsidize providers to bring connectivity to areas where the that we weren't ensuring that
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local-income folks there were provided for in those build youth plans. i don't know have to tell this audience that you can be poor and rural. if the government is going to pay to bring the internet to your community, then it should benefit all the folks in your community. i propose that we mandate that providers that see high cost funding provide consumers with an affordable option. this was included in the act led by whip clyburn and senator klobuchar and i hope it will make its way into the final infrastructure legislation. if i can, very briefly, flag as you mentioned the importance of
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hbcu's. for them and their surrounding community. and i visited alabama state university last year, saw that hbcu's can be partners in the digital divide in the black rural south. in discussions with hcbu's presidents, it is mission critical that the f.c.c. and all of us hear from the tennessee state, north carolina, delaware state, howard university and mrt south state in there as well. we are reminded that hcbu's unique institutions that play powerful roles. and not only for their students but across the black rural south
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where many of those hcbu's are located. are. >> thank you so much. i want to turn it back over to former commissioner. you an advocate for broader broadband access and competition. can you talk about the importance of competition in this? >> i have seen figures as high as 40% of communities and i have heard from people who live had pretty expensive homes in urban communities like parts of d.c. where they have fewer options by way of broadband provider.
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and competition, one is a monopoly and zero you are stuck. while we talk about competition a lot and opportunities because where you see competition, you see lower prices, you see higher speed, you see more products and services. and so when you have that -- people competing for business. and while we talk about competition that it must be part of this discussion is that many of the benefits that with not happen organic ale if we are in a monopoly framework, that would not happen and would not substantially improve the options for those particularly
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in rural areas. and lack of options, that is a part of -- you look at the asterisks of risk, opportunities is -- affordability is a real problem. low speed is a big problem. and when i went down to jackson, mississippi, i heard about people hanging at mcdonald's not to eat but only affordable reliable option to do their homework or fill out job blakes. we have work to do. and competition has to be part of the enabling mix both from the legislative and regulatory view. we have disagreements how much money should flow there, commissioner stark has said it
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the other day and my eight-plus years, but we have to talk about it and providing opportunity for one isn't going to give as much opportunity. >> thank you so much. as we note in our report, research as communities get higher percentage of african american-americans in their population they might have one internet service provider. we are coming up to our question and answer time, so i want to provide all of our panelists to answer some questions that we have coming in for our audiences. and i want to start off with this one, any panelist jump in when you would like to respond. earl p. has a two-part question.
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is there monitoring mechanism to ensure plaque and minority communities get fair share of federal funding? and how can congress encourage national banks and the office of the comptroller of the currency to commit credit and capital along side the united states to assure build youth? >> i'll take the first part of that and defer to the second part. in particular there are a number of mechanisms that we have at the f.c.c. to make sure with regard to build youth and high cost program where we are praying universal fund dollars and making sure about a six or seven-year life cycle that there are a number of times where they have to hit certain hurdles and
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meet more and more folks and get higher numbers and higher threshold numbers in their community that they are continuing to serve. that is not a rate-based. where those dollars flow to is part of the connect america fund which is building out the digital fund, we're going through the long form process to make sure the award winners are going to be building out. and accountability that i deeply believe in as a former lawyer. >> i'll suggest more generic data, there is a lack of it for us to go to address what has been put forth.
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the number of things that we expressly did during my years at the f.c.c. was to look at areas of need. give more credit when it came to design. rural opportunities of credit, a credit would look at communities that are economically disadvantaged. there are ways and do we have enough data to have rate specific or and there are things we can do. and we talk about the economic and there are creative ways we can come up that will move the needle in communities of color particularly in rural communities. if we look -- it was mentioned the longstanding opportunities and longstanding issues of
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disproportionate and educational attainment and economic opportunities, specific engagement. there are ways we can address those if you allow me to put that label on it through agencies, through programs through banks. when is the last time you talked about c.r.a.'s these are things that can be done if we coordinate and define public-private partnership to get -- to move the needle where we have the most by way of challenges. the challenge has to be creative. but to continue to do so. and it is our hope that the agencies, particularly
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collectively, prieflt sector on their own because they have fewer restrikes to put things in place to patriotic a difference. when they come back next year and we will have a visit with this panel and that we are not talking about the same thing. it would be a shame that link between lack of broadband and percentage of poverty, they seem to be linked. ar by design. problems that we must proactively address. >> thank you so much. especially bringing back up the idea of poverty. omar asked how can we build the capacity of county governments, especially persistent poverty counties in rural areas to do
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this work? >> i think it's really important to acknowledge the important of counties. counties have power when it comes to economic development and decide what is happening in the municipalities within. when we are thinking about broadband programs whether they are in congress or the white house or whether it's a state, governor's office, we need to make sure that county leaders are part of that discussion. county leaders are included in an after thought and notified about an r.f.p. and this is where it's going to go and rarely are they included in the policy making process. it is important tore us to be explicit that they are not only to participate in that dialogue but invited into that dialogue because it is not often enough
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for one or two trade associations. there are over 10,000 municipalities across the united states. we need toll get a diverse array of them from guam to puerto rico, to hawaii to the outstirts of maine. we need to be expansive in our rich reach. something the commissioner mentioned about -- our voices are on the margin and bring them spoo the center. because they come up with great problem solving and actually have good ideas to improve federal and state policies. mr. clyburn: you may be aware that commission spark and former commissioner clyburn are away that the legislation prioritize
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esper cyst tenth poverty counties. many of you know, i have done work with persistent poverty counties. we have set-asides in 21 of our funding bill here for persistent poverty counties. so we focus on that, secondly, we also mandate by this legislation that local municipalities must be involved in the process. as you know in years past, some folks folks at the state levels have denied local opportunities to participate. i'm well aware of that. but i have used the experience i have and creative devices in the south to address legislation.
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>> thank you so much for highlighting your legislation, congressman clyburn. we are coming to an end and i want to give each panelist the opportunity to share final thoughts on this topic. there is so much more discussion we could have here, but what's on your mind as we continue to think about the broadband infrastructure and thinking about how to low-income americans across the u.s. >> thank you so much for having me. as you can imagine. wait until the last minute and the house is trying to go home this week. but thank you so much for having me and i am alls pleased to be
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on with f.c.c. commissioners, present and past because i'm at a loss to disagree with them. thank you guys for letting me be here. >> from one clyburn to another, one of the things that is clear and i mentioned broadband is a social determinant for many of the challenges that we have today or lack thereof. so we are going to work on breaking this persistent cycle of unrealized. we must demand accountability from the f.c.c. fund. and demand accountability from state and local heeders that are going to have and continue to get appropriated money from congress and make sure that the
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money is more evenly spent. news flash, money has not been evenly spent and opportunities have not been evenly realized and that perpetration seems to happen in the same places. so again, the demands are great and demand high-speed, high quality, reliability, affordability and inclusive opportunities because we can talk about and have named a lot of the critical challenges that we have. they are evident and became more evident during this process. but we are at a unique point where the opportunities are great and leveraging technology and ensureing broadband opportunities that are reachable, that are affordable
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and widely available is the key. but all of that collectively is the key to realizing the opportunities and realizing them more quickly. that, i believe is the difference -- the last pandemic 100 years ago, we did not have what we have now. we need to put lessons in place in order for us to address these issues and expand the opportunities for technology. we won't get there quickly without it. . we need to make shureks especially for the struggling households that we know have
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really been hurt through the pandemic, we need to have a whole of government approach to making sure that they are able to get to the suite of services we have for households that are struggling. if you're having food insecurity, you're likely having digital insecurity. we plead to join with h.u.d., we need to join with usda which controls snap. we need to join with all of our sister agencies and make sure if you're a part of a struggling household you don't have to knock on every door in order to get the help that you need. we know that millions of families have recently signed up for snap in order to make sure that they have food on the table. we should also be able to get them the connectivity that we know that they all need. >> lastly, do you have any last remarks? >> i'm so thankful for work all of these panelists and specifically a joint center --
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keep doing that research. i hope all of you watching this online, especially the people who are not often invited into the circle, that there are more people that are more diverse and more good ideas being injected into this conversation. >> i appreciate you all so much. again, this conversation deserves so much more discussion but we want to be respectful of everyone's time. and our time together is -- has come to an end. i want to say thank you so much to our panelists, congressman james clyburn, is ms. ochello, jeffrey starks and former f.c.c. chairwoman mignon clyburn. our audience, thank you for being here as well. please check out our forthcoming report, affordability and availability, expanding broadband in the black rural south, which you'll find online at jointcenter.org. thank you for everyone fortuning in. -- for tuning in. c.d.c. c.d.c. roger federer >> the house is in --
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[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2021] le. >> a federal ban on some evictions is set to expire. when the house returns, we'll have live coverage here on c-span. >> weekends on c-span2, bring you the best in american history and nonfiction books. saturday on american history tv, at 1:00 p.m. eastern, is parents, educators and pundits have long discussed how u.s. history and government should be taught in schools. this week harvard university's debate a new initiative called educating for american democracy that was funded through grants by private foundations and the federal government. and at 4:to -- 4:05 p.m. eastern on oral history, iraq war veteran talks about his service in the u.s. army national guard during operation iraqi freedom. as well as his time in afghanistan. watch american history tv every
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saturday on c-span2 and find a full schedule on your program guide or visit c-span.org/history. >> sunday, c-span's series, january 6, views from the house, continues. three more members of congress share stories of what they saw, heard and experienced that day. including representative rodney davis of illinois who served as a teller for the electoral vote count on that day. >> there were a lot of freshmen there that i had gotten to know during orientation that this was their first real experience as a member of congress. and we were kind of watching them and talking to my fellow colleagues about what we could do to try and stop this. >> what were those conversations like? tell us about them. >> i remember a conversation i had with marjorie taylor greene. she was a freshman. shelves very active during the
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orientation -- she was very active during the orientation. she was very upset about what was going on. and her and i chatted, she said, what can i do? i said, how about you go back in the cloakroom, fill am video, place it on social media and if you have any influence over anybody out there, tell them to stop. she did that. >> this week you'll also hear from democrats from pennsylvania and california. january 6, views from the house. sunday at 10:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, c-span.org or listen on the c-span radio app. a group ofo the capitol steps yesterday to protest mask wearing among other policy differences, a country in crisis. >> we have a country in crisis. a recent poll showed american's optimism about the direction of the country over the next

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