GOP Sen. Tuberville Touts Broadband Funding Despite Voting Against It

  • The Biden administration announced Monday that Alabama will get $1.4 billion in broadband funding.
  • Mon. Tommy Tuberville celebrated the news, calling the funding “crucial” for rural broadband.
  • But he voted against the 2021 infrastructure bill that established the program he’s now touting.

On Tuesday, Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama celebrated the fact that his state would receive $1.4 billion in federal funding to expand access to the internet statewide.

“Broadband is vital for the success of our rural communities and for our entire economy,” he said wrote. “Great to see Alabama is receiving crucial funds to boost ongoing broadband efforts.”

The wrinkle: nearly two years ago, Tuberville voted against the bill that’s providing that money.

The funding comes from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, an initiative established under the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration and authorized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which was signed into law in late 2021.

On Monday, the White House announced state allocations for more than $42 billion in funding, allowing states to administer grants to develop high-speed internet.

At $1.4 billion, Alabama is receiving more than all but six states in funding under the program.

Tuberville joined most other Senate Republicans in opposing the bipartisan infrastructure law in 2021, declaring in a statement that his state “needs a robust investment in real infrastructure” but that the bill is “loaded with giveaways to big cities and pet projects that have little to do with real infrastructure.”

“I’ve said all along I’d be for a bill that invests every penny of every dollar in improvements to our roads, bridges, waterways, and rural broadband,” Tuberville said at the time. “Unfortunately, Democrats have missed an opportunity to deliver the bill that the American people truly need.”

Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama — the only member of the delegation to vote for the 2021 bill — was quick to note the apparent hypocrisy.

But Tuberville spokesman Steven Stafford argued that the senator simply wanted his state to get their “fair share” of federal funding, now that the bill has become law.

“Coach voted against the infrastructure bill because it wasted Alabamians’ tax dollars. It spent too much to get too little in return for Alabama,” Stafford said. “But now that is [the] law of the land, the people of Alabama deserve their fair share. Coach is proud to advocate for this funding to go to Alabama.”

Tuberville has long styled himself as a proponent for rural broadband.

He’s advocated for including expanding rural broadband as part of an upcoming farm bill, and he introduced legislation earlier this year to shield broadband grants from being taxed as income.

In a recent floor speech, Tuberville said that his top priority as the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy is “expanding broadband access to unserved populations who need it most so our rural communities are not left behind.”

Leave a Comment