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tv   Commerce Secretary Holds Briefing  CSPAN  November 9, 2021 11:43pm-12:06am EST

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>> wednesday, advocates testify on hunger among veterans and service members before a house agriculture subcommittee. live coverage beginning at 12:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, online it's c-span.org or watch on c-span now, our new video app. >> a new mobile video app from c-span. c-span now. download today. >> commerce secretary gina raimondo joined white house deputy press secretary karine john pierre for a briefing on the president's infrastructure agenda. she addressed her departments well in the newly signed a bill.
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she spoke with reporters for 20 minutes. >> good afternoon, everybody. i'm all by myself up here. ok. so we have another special guest joining us today, commerce secretary gina raimondo who is here to highlight how the bipartisan infrastructure deal will help close for 30 million americans who do not have access to reliable high speed internet particularly in minority and rural communities. as you all know, the secretary is a member of the president jobs cabinet who was deeply involved in negotiations on the hill that culminated in the bipartisan infrastructure deal, a once in a generation
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investment in our nation's infrastructure and competitiveness, today the secretary will discuss the roles of the department of commerce in implementing this bill to build up broadband infrastructure. this will deliver for the american people by teaching digital skills, getting kids the devices they need to succeed and improving overall accessibility and affordability. after she is done giving her remarks, i will take q & a and i'm make sure to guide that and get people in the front and people in the back. madam secretary. >> good afternoon, everybody. first of all, thank you for inviting me today. it's a pleasure to be here with all of you. before i talk about broadband, i want to take a moment to recognize what incredible accomplishment it was last week to get the bipartisan
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infrastructure bill accomplished. prior to this job i was governor of rhode island for six years. every year we thought, we were told an infrastructure bill was around the corner. it's going to come, governor. the infrastructure money is coming, of course, it never did and president biden delivered. president biden stepped up. he led, none of this could have been done without his leader ship. he was so personally engaged working across the aisle to compromise, to get results, to deliver for the american people and that's what happened. and i don't think we can underestimate the impact of this. the infrastructure investment and jobs act will help americans and deliver for americans. as it relates to the commerce department, it is going to enable us at the commerce department to fund key priorities that will have very tangible positive impacts for american workers and businesses. just to tick off a few things. it's substantial funding for
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noaa to increase climate resiliency and restore and improve coastal habitats. it is very excitingly permanent authorization for the minority business development agency at $1.6 billion to that agency, mbda in the commerce department is the only federal agency solely focused on promoting the growth, development and resiliency of minority owned businesses, so it's pretty incredible. today i'm going to focus particularly on broadband as was said. president biden has set a very ambitious goal for his administration that we must connect all americans, all americans regardless of where they live to high speed affordable internet. and thanks to the passage of the bill, we will be able to accomplish just that. the infrastructure investment act allocates $65 billion to
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expand broadband in communities all across america to create low cost options and subsidize the cost of service for those who need it. of that $65 billion, about $45 billion will be coming to the commerce department at ntia to administer that program. this is an area that i'm particularly passionate about having been a governor during the pandemic and being with people who didn't have broadband, children who couldn't go to school, people who couldn't go see a doctor or a therapist, it is heartbreaking and it showed in a very real and human way how essential broadband is and the fact of the matter is, we have to close the digital divide, period. and this infrastructure bill will allows us to do that and the $48 billion coming to the commerce department will allow us to do that. beyond the physical infrastructure, laying fiber,
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affordability is just as important. affordability is just as important as access. it does a family no good if there is broadband in their community but they can't afford it. closing the digital divide means both providing the broadband and making sure it's affordable. so the investments in this bill will help insure every american can access affordable high speed internet, which means requiring funding recipients to offer a low cost affordable plan, everyone who gets a penny of this money is required to offer low cost affordable plan, provided federal funding for broadband services to low income families, requiring providers to be transparent about pricing to help families do comparison shopping for services where they have competitive options. i will confess this is going to be a massive undertaking for the department of commerce, but we're up for it. we have been planning for months and we're up for it.
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we plan to work in close collaboration with states, counties, cities, community-based organizations and the private sector in partnership to develop grant programs which will insure that we roll this out in an efficient manner. broadband is a gateway to economic opportunity and so in order to open that gateway, we're putting equity at the center of everything we do. i will say to truly transform our economy into one that works for all americans and one that will make our country more competitive on the world stage, we have to make investments in a way that is equitable and just and we view this lens across all of the work we do at the commerce department and will be particularly front and center with the broadband work that we'll be doing. it will not be easy. this will be technically difficult. it's an implementation challenge but it is necessary.
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it is necessary and i believe, i know that implementing this in partnership with our partners on ground, we will be able to close the digital divide, close the innovation divide and achieve the president's goal of making sure that every american regardless of where they live or the color of their skin or their income has access to broadband. and i will say 30, 40, 50 years from now, we will look back on this as the turning point, as a critical turning point because now that we're moving even more towards a digital economy and a data economy and a tech economy, nobody can be left behind and that means everybody has broadband and due to the president's leadership, we're going to be able to deliver on that. so with that, i will turn it over to you. >> can you walk us through when the money is going to be allocated, i understand at least
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$100 million will go to states and then is it totally up to the state to determine what projects to launch or will there be federal oversight? basically i'm trying to understand how the money is going to get funneled through and how the remaining money is going to be allocated? >> thank you. yes, in terms of the practicality of it, each state will receive $100 million as you say. the remaining money will be allocated based on need, based on how many underserved households there are in that state. the whole name of the game here is to focus on the underserved and the unserved and on affordability. we have to make sure that we don't spend this money overbuilding, which means we have to work very closely with the f.c.c. and using their maps to make sure that we focus the one where broadband doesn't
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exist now. everyone gets $100 million. beyond that, it will be based upon unserved based upon need. we'll be giving out a grant per state. each state will give grants to subgrantees on the ground. we are as i just said very focused on equity and making sure there is affordability and use big quit which means we have to be flexible. a state like rhode island where i'm from, there is no rural rhode island. it's an urban place. so the needs in a place like rhode island will be more around affordability, inner city access, contrast with new mexico, completely different topography, 50% of people on tribal lands don't have broadband. we need to account for the flexibility there which is why it's going to be a state by state. there will be a tremendous amount of federal oversight and transparency, every state has to put their plan online for
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everyone to see and we are going to have very strict criteria to make sure that we achieve the goals of affordability and access. >> when you think the first expansion projects will get underway? >> i'm sorry? >> when will the projects get underway, when will states physically -- >> first we have to have the law and then it will take us sometime to get set up, some number of months, so, i mean, it's hard to say. i would say well into next year. >> thank you. >> can you guarantee people in internet dead zones -- >> how quickly americans will feel the impact or are there longer term goals, 10, 20 years down the line, the timing of
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this? >> first, we are already i am implementing -- in the rescue package, commerce received some money related to broadband. we're already putting that out now. there is a tribal initiative, there is a rural initiative, usda, it has that, we're working with them. some americans will start to see relief this year, soon. as i just said over here, the rest of this, i think it will take a number of months to start getting the money out the door. it will be staged in. we want to get relief out there as fast as possible but in a quality way. so some of the affordability metrics providing subsidies, that can happen more quickly. laying fiber across america, that will take time. we'll be creating jobs every step of the way. >> one quick question, can you talk a little bit about the equity portion, are there percentages or numbers you want to hit, i'm wondering how you're doing to measure success?
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>> every single american has access to broadband, truly affordable. >> does that mean in the dead zones -- >> you're being here, you know the importance of the coordination with governors and the various states, can you talk a little bit about the outreach so far and are you taking the lead on that in terms of being in touch with these various governors as they implement? >> i should tell you, we have been preparing this, we are figuring out already how we are going to staff it within the department of commerce, how we're going to make sure we have accountability. i have already had several convenings with governors, i have been speaking with governors, with mayors, with tribal leaders, now this is official, we're going to significantly ramp up that engagement. >> very quickly, as you talked about targeting rural areas and
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then more urban areas, how do you determine which areas you're dressing first? is it an all hands on deck approach, how can we see all of that happen? >> we are asking each state to give us a plan. so we are mandating -- we are saying to them, show us a plan that guarantees every single person in your state has access to high speed affordable internet. and then we're going to evaluate that plan, adjust it to make sure at the end of the day we hit the goal. >> just to be sure the timeline a little bit, some of the physical infrastructure projects are estimated to take months to a year. is that about the same timeline that you're tracking -- >> it's really hard to say. we have to be flexible. laying fiber in a place with the mountainous, difficult topography, that could take years.
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>> thank you. i want to ask you about implementation, the focus of a lot of our questions, one year from yesterday, midterm elections will take place. can you guarantee that people all around the country will see that implementation take place before the midterm elections and what type of projects are you looking at in terms of implementation between now and then >> certainly americans will feel and see in their communities much of the progress that the biden administration is overseeing. i mean, from the rescue package to the infrastructure package. i think every community will see activity and action, some communities will start to see, you know, people working, laying fiber, but i also think it's important to be realistic, honest with people which is to say, we want to get this right.
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it's more important to get it right than to rush, so i think people will see their state putting together a plan, they'll see us starting to move out on that plan, but not everybody is going to have broadband a year from now. >> president obama signed the recovery act, he acknowledged that this idea of shovel-ready jobs is not reasonable. it doesn't exist. will you agree with that statement in terms of what president obama said after the passage and with the signature on the recovery act package back in 2009? >> there are all different kinds of projects. there are projects that are shovel ready, i can tell you that from being governor. in my state, there are many projects that are shovel ready need money to be added. there are others and broadband is an example that require more planning, that require thoughtful technical planning. so the whole point of the infrastructure package is to deliver for americans.
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i promise you this. a year from now, many, many people will be working in high quality jobs because of this package, but i also promise you that the president wants us to get it right. if it takes a little longer to lay the groundwork for fiber and broadband, then we're going to do that. i can't hear, i'm sorry. >> i want to ask, thank you, about the deadline that your department had imposed to get voluntary data from semiconductor manufacturers and other companies. did it receive all of the information it was looking for from the c.e.o.s and what is your reaction about china appearing to be angry about the compliance with your request, they called it extortion of confidential information from chip firms and talked about concerns that the u.s. could use the information to sanction beijing, what is your reaction
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to that? >> so the deadline was yesterday, so we haven't yet had the opportunity to go through all the submissions. i will tell you over the past couple of weeks, i have spoken to the c.e.o.s of a number of semiconductor companies including tsmc, asked them for their compliance, they said they all would be complying and sending the information that we're asking for. it is laughable to suggest that it's coercion because it is voluntary. we're asking them to cooperate with us. the truth is this is what -- president biden has said to us on his team, use every tool that we have to deliver relief for the american people around supply chains. that's what we're doing. this is a tool in the commerce toolbox and we're using it. i think to great effect. every c.e.o. i have talked to including tsmc said it's a great idea. it will increase transparency in the supply chain which will cut down on bottle necks, that's why they're complaining, they're own
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choice. >> china's reaction make you think that the u.s. should have a more clearer strategy towards possibly defending taiwan given their response to that, you call a semiconductor shortage a crisis, they're hedging on, that what do you think about how we should approach defending taiwan? >> i think what i've said which is the lack of domestic production in america of semiconductors poses not only an economic threat, a national security threat and we need congress, the house to pass the chips act as quickly as possible so we can get to the business of making more chips in america. tomorrow would be great. >> [indiscernible].
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>> you mentioned a couple of answers, is there a workforce right now that is able to fulfill this broadband expansion? are there people who know how to do this? >> that's a good question. i would say yes and no. we in working with congress on this portion of the bill, we specifically said keep it flexible so we can use some of the money for workforce training and to the question of equity, the folks that we train ought to look like america, right. and to the question of what will americans see, what they're going to see soon is people in their community, men, women, people of color, white people laying fiber. and today we don't have enough trained people, no, we don't. but some of this money will be used for workforce training so we can training folks and in the process of doing that, diversify
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the ranks of electricians and i. >> i want to ask you about broadband, first, the commerce department made a really consequential decision, was there a specific breach that led to that, was there evidence that their software is being used to monitor u.s. nowitzki, what was it that led you to make that decision? >> usually we don't comment on the details. i will simply say it went through the same process, intra-agency process that all of these decisions go through. we came to a determination that it was necessary for national security in order to impose that. >> on the broadband question, congress exempted the infrastructure bill, the $4 it billion pot of money that you have from the administrative
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procedure act which requires a number of things in terms of public notice -- >> i'm having bad flashbacks to law school. administrative law. >> it's not important for journalist, we use the freedom of information act to get information on how government is spending money that might be going to private sector companies. since we don't have that, how do you expect us to hold you accountable for how this money is being spent? >> i confess i haven't gone that deeply into the weeds of that particular provision, but i will say this. as i said here, we are deeply committed to translators patients si, the way to build public trust is transparency. as a result, every single state plan has to be put online so you can comb through every detail of every plan to see where every penny goes and i think that's really important. >> thank you so much. >> [indiscernible] >> thank you, guys.
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