|8:39 PM EDT||
Phil Gingrey MD, R-GA 11th
Mr. GINGREY of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, at this time, I would like to yield myself such time as I may consume.
I remind my good friend from New York that Solyndra was a loan program, too, that was supposed to be paid back with interest. I offer this amendment because there is something better--there is something better.
I certainly understand and I appreciate the efforts taken by the chairman of the Agriculture Committee for creating further transparency with the RUS Rural Broadband Loan Program. However, despite these improvements, I am still incredibly skeptical of this program.
Mr. Chairman, since its inception, Congress has appropriated nearly $130 million in taxpayer dollars towards this program, and I feel that RUS has consistently missed the mark. On the other hand--and this is the alternative--in 2011, the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, under existing statutory authority, fundamentally changed the nature of the Universal Service Fund and created the Connect America Fund with essentially the same goal as the Rural Broadband Loan Program. The Connect
America Fund is a different entity, and the FCC announced last month that $485 million of that fund, which is rooted not in increased taxes but in user fees, will be dedicated to unserved areas for broadband deployment.
Mr. Chairman, I do believe that the FCC is in a better position than the USDA to implement telecommunications policy, and over the life of the Rural Broadband Loan Program, USDA has only confirmed my cynicism.
The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.