NEWTON, NJ (Sussex County) – U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) this week participated in a bipartisan American Congressional Exchange program with Republican Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14), organized by the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Gottheimer and Joyce discussed rural broadband access and affordability issues, working across the aisle to solve problems, and preventing partisan gridlock.
“I’d like to thank the Bipartisan Policy Center for having me on the Congressional Exchange Program and their deeply important work, because, I feel we need more civility, decency, and mutual respect in our political system and in our political dialogue — from both sides of the aisle — and less partisanship and gridlock. This is why a program like the Bipartisan Policy Center’s American Congressional Exchange is so important and why conversations like what my friend and colleague, Congressman Joyce, had today are so vital,” Gottheimer said.
“I will continue to work with the broadband providers and our great mayors and councils and school leaders in the Fifth District to help expand access to high-speed internet, to get costs down, and make it easier to install the physical infrastructure necessary to connect our homes, schools, and businesses to the broadband we all need. As a first-world country and the largest economy in the world, access to basic internet should not be an issue,” Gottheimer said.
“More than 300,000 Buckeye households lack access to high-speed internet,” Joyce said. “That’s roughly one million Ohioans who can’t access education or health care services during this pandemic or are limited in seeking opportunities in today’s economy because the connectivity required to do so simply doesn’t exist where they live. I thank my friend and colleague Congressman Gottheimer for joining me today to explore ways we can expand broadband access for both the underserved and the unserved. I’m proud to work with him on the Problem Solvers Caucus to bridge the partisan divide that has prevented Washington from acting on critical issues like this for far too long.”
Gottheimer and Joyce were joined on the virtual exchange by Bipartisan Policy Center founder and president Jason Grumet; Knowlton Township Mayor Adele Starrs, and Zufall Health Center Foundation Director Shade Cronan, among others.
Gottheimer has worked closely with Knowlton Mayor Adele Starrs to directly negotiate with broadband providers to lower costs, expand broadband infrastructure, and connect our homes, schools, and businesses to high-speed internet we all need, especially now.
Zufall Health Center — which serves residents in Newton and Hackettstown in the Fifth District’s Warren and Sussex Counties, and which is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) — received $1.7 million in federal CARES Act investment from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support their ongoing work in telehealth and community care.
Gottheimer’s recent federal action and resources to improve rural broadband infrastructure in the Fifth District include:
- The bipartisan CARES Act — which Gottheimer helped pass out of the House to be signed into law in March, included hundreds of millions of dollars in investment to increase broadband infrastructure and internet connected devices to support telehealth, telework, and telelearning.
- Fifth District telehealth resources — $1.7 million in CARES Act investment went to Zufall Health Center, which has locations in Newton and Hackettstown, to support their ongoing work in telehealth and community care.
- Investment to North Jersey higher education — $40 million in CARES Act investment has gone to help support NJ-5 schools and help students pay for basic essentials in the wake of the outbreak, including to Sussex County Community College, Warren County Community College, and Centenary University.
- Investment to Fifth District K-12 schools — $7 million in CARES Act investment has gone to help the Fifth District’s elementary and secondary schools provide quality education through remote learning.
- Gottheimer legislation to increase investment in rural broadband — The House recently passed bipartisan legislation that included Gottheimer’s provision to increase investment in the FCC broadband infrastructure grant program to help address the challenges facing unserved and underserved areas.