Rep. Elissa Slotkin: “We Clearly Need to See Broadband Internet as a Public Utility”

Slotkin says the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted many infrastructure needs, including lack of access to broadband internet.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin

Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) says future federal aid packages to address the coronavirus pandemic should prioritize direct funding to state and local governments, and hopes infrastructure improvements will be a focus as well.

“We clearly need to see broadband as a public utility.” – Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-MI)

Between Congressional relief packages and the Federal Reserve, the United States has already dedicated about $6 trillion to keep the economy from collapsing as social distancing measures have shut down large portions of American society. Now, there’s talk of further federal support for individuals and businesses — although those talks are off to a rocky start.

Listen: Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) discusses the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Elissa Slotkin for Congress
Elissa Slotkin for Congress

Slotkin tells Stephen Henderson on WDET’s Detroit Today that cities and states are in dire positions, and haven’t been enough of a focus in previous relief packages.

“Our cities and towns are looking down the barrel of significant layoffs and services,” she tells Henderson. “We know what it looks like when a city goes bankrupt.”

“I do think the conversation we have been having with some GOP House members is that they are worried about cities and states asking (the federal government) to cover longstanding debts…things that have little to do with coronavirus,” says Slotkin.

The congresswoman, who represents Michigan’s 8th district stretching from northern Oakland County to Mid-Michigan, also says investments in infrastructure could and should be part of future packages, although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says it won’t be part of the next round. She says the pandemic has highlighted many infrastructure needs, including roads and broadband internet access.

“We clearly need to see broadband as a public utility,” says Slotkin. “There are schools in my district who are not teaching children right now because of broadband (issues). A shovel-ready must-do project is broadband internet.”

Slotkin also discusses a bill she introduced this week that would require a federal strategy on testing and streamline the production and distribution of critical supplies under the Defense Production Act (DPA). 

Related: Stephen Henderson speaks with three women representing Michigan in Congress about the federal COVID-19 response.

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