Rep. Axne Votes to Approve Billions in Broadband Expansion and Other Infrastructure Investments for Iowa

July 1, 2020
Press Release
House Democrats’ infrastructure package includes House Rural Broadband Task Force bill and Axne amendment to protect manufactured housing communities

Today, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) voted to advance a package of more than $1.5 trillion in critical infrastructure funding, the Moving Forward Act, to support critical upgrades for Iowa’s infrastructure and spur a strong economic recovery through investments in rural broadband expansion, health systems, clean energy, and affordable housing.

“Even before this current economic recession began, Iowa was in need of bold and comprehensive investments to improve our infrastructure – but as economic turmoil continues, there is all the more reason to secure robust federal investments to repair crumbling bridges and roads, create jobs, expand opportunity and access to critical services, and kickstart economic recovery,” said Rep. Axne. “I have been advocating for provisions in this bill since my first day in Congress – like expanding rural broadband and investing in upgrades for our health systems and energy grid – and I am proud of my vote today to bring billions in public investment back to Iowa.”

The legislation includes the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act – the $100 billion investment in rural broadband expansion that Rep. Axne and the House Rural Broadband Task Force introduced last week.

Earlier today, the legislation was also amended to include Rep. Axne’s Manufactured Housing Community (MHC) Preservation Act, which will help keep manufactured and mobile home communities affordable for their residents by providing assistance for the acquisition and preservation of manufactured housing communities.

Estimates provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation project that Iowa would receive at least $3.5 billion over the next five years from this legislation just in road and highway support, with more funding likely as programs are implemented to expand access to child care, affordable housing, clean drinking water, and other programs in the bill.

The bill also includes:

  • Over $300 billion to repair our nation’s roads and bridges, including tens of thousands of structurally deficient bridges.
    • Iowa leads the nation in structurally deficient bridges and this legislation will create jobs across Iowa by providing significant resources to address the crumbling infrastructure.
  • Nearly $50 billion in dedicated funding to local communities to strengthen local input and decision-making for federal funds. 
  • $30 billion to upgrade hospitals to increase capacity and strengthen care, help community health centers respond to COVID-19 and future public health emergencies.
  • Investment in rural communities through a new grant program to provide $250 million to address needs of rural communities, and increased funding for dedicated rural transit formula grants by 50% to support rural transit infrastructure.
  • A $100 billion investment in the nation’s school infrastructure.
    • A recent report found over half of America’s schools need repairs or improvements, including needed replacements of HVAC systems. 
  • Increased investment in airport infrastructure through $4 billion in the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), and $4 billion for upgrades on aging facilities, cleaning and sanitization needs, and other projects such as new terminals. 
  • Robust investment in clean energy and safe drinking water, including $25 billion to protect access to safe drinking water, $40 billion for new wastewater infrastructure, $70 billion for energy modernization and transformation to renewable energy.
    • This includes an updated version of the National Climate Bank Act, which would leverage $20 billion of capital to support more than $500 billion of investment in clean energy and emissions reduction projects, a bill Rep. Axne introduced with four colleagues in December.

Background on the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act

Last week, Rep. Axne and the members of the House Rural Broadband Task Force introduced comprehensive legislation that would invest over $100 billion to improve broadband access and affordability in rural areas of the United States.

The legislation includes $80 billion to deploy high-speed broadband infrastructure to unserved and underserved areas, $9 billion to help cover the cost of broadband for low-income customers and those who’ve recently lost their job, $5 billion for schools and libraries to help with rapid deployment of mobile hotspots and laptops to families who need them, and over $1 billion for a new State Digital Equity Capacity Program to ensure people have the digital literacy needed to work and learn online.

Rep. Axne has been working on this legislation as a member of the House Rural Broadband Task Force since May 2019.          

Background on the Manufactured Housing Community Preservation Act

In January, Rep Axne. introduced the Manufactured Housing Community Preservation Act in response to rent spikes in MHCs like those seen in Waukee, who last year faced rent hikes at rates up to 70% after purchase by a Utah-based investment firm.

The bill directs the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to create a grant program to help nonprofits, resident-formed cooperatives, and other local entities purchase and maintain an MHC through awards of up to $1 million. The legislation includes oversight provisions to ensure rents remain affordable for residents after purchase by grant recipients.

Last week, Reps. Axne also joined Reps. Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) to introduce new legislation that sets basic standards for federally backed loans used to purchase MHCs.