BLAIRSTOWN TOWNSHIP, NJ (Warren County) — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Monday urged New Jersey to take immediate action to release the federal investments clawed back to New Jersey for expanded broadband access in Sussex and Warren Counties and beyond. He also urged Sussex and Warren County utilize federal resources, too.
Nearly a year ago, Gottheimer stood with the Governor and many state and local elected officials, to highlight the $190 million that he helped New Jersey secure from the 2021 COVID-19 emergency relief package, also known as the American Rescue Plan (ARP), to expand and improve broadband access for more rural areas of New Jersey, including in Warren and Sussex Counties, and to other communities that lack high-speed connectivity.
After more than a year, the federal broadband resources allocated to the State of New Jersey from the American Rescue Plan have not yet been distributed.
“After more than a year, the state-allocated broadband resources from the American Rescue Plan have not been distributed and are still sitting in the state’s coffers. Appointments still haven’t been made to the 19-member Broadband Access Study Commission panel, which will ensure that investments are distributed appropriately. I’m asking the State to please take immediate action to release the federal investments clawed back to New Jersey for expanded broadband access here in Sussex and Warren Counties and beyond,” Gottheimer said. “I’m focused on working with the State and our local counties to immediately get out the resources and investments I helped claw back to New Jersey from Washington for expanded broadband in rural areas. Once released, these federal dollars will help build on the great strides we’ve made in broadband infrastructure over the last few years and continue to improve access for families, students, schools, small businesses, and healthcare.”
Gottheimer also strongly encouraged the county governments in Sussex and Warren to utilize resources allocated to them, and received, through the American Rescue Plan for broadband deployment and connectivity. Gottheimer helped claw back $27.25 million to the Sussex County government and $20.42 million to the Warren County government, as well as federal investment to each individual Fifth District town, to help with COVID-related expenses, including for infrastructure, sewer, and broadband.
The White House recently estimated 30 million Americans live in areas that lack broadband infrastructure to provide minimally acceptable speeds. In fact, public reporting from last year using data from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Microsoft showed that only 44% of Sussex County households have broadband and only 46% of Warren County households have broadband.
Gottheimer was joined today outside the Blairstown Township Municipal Building by Blairstown Mayor Rob Moorhead, Hardwick Mayor Chris Jacksic, and Belvidere Councilman Joseph Roth.
Legislation Gottheimer Has Helped Lead and Pass to Expand Broadband Access in North Jersey:
- American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: Gottheimer clawed back $190 million to the State of New Jersey to expand and improve broadband access for more rural areas of New Jersey, including in Warren and Sussex Counties, and to other communities that lack high-speed connectivity. These broadband resources allocated to the State of New Jersey have not been distributed. Resources in the American Rescue Plan also go directly to every single county and town government in New Jersey, which resulted in $27.25 million directly to Sussex County’s government and $20.42 million to the Warren County government.
- 2020 Bipartisan COVID-19 Emergency Relief Package: Gottheimer helped negotiate this package and it was shaped by legislation originally written and agreed upon by the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group Gottheimer co-chairs, and senators from both sides of the aisle. The package included resources for broadband programs nationwide, and established the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program to help low-income households access broadband and the COVID-19 Telehealth Program to help healthcare providers treat COVID patients through connected care technologies. Eight health care providers in Jersey received investments, totaling nearly $4.5 million clawed back to our state. This included more than $700,000 for Zufall Health Center, which has locations in Newton and Hackettstown.