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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The coronavirus relief package deal that Congressional leaders reached Sunday includes $7 billion in funding for broadband internet access.

Why it matters: The move to remote learning and work has made broadband access essential for many families during the pandemic, at a moment when some can't afford it.


Details: The broadband funding includes a new $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit that will provide $50 per month for broadband for low-income families, a provision based on legislation from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

The funding also includes, per a Hill aide:

  • $1.9 billion for "rip and replace" efforts to remove Huawei and ZTE equipment from U.S. networks.
  • $1 billion in grants for Tribal broadband programs.
  • $300 million for rural broadband deployment.
  • $285 million that will in part fund a pilot program to help with broadband issues for communities around historically Black colleges and universities.
  • $250 million for the Federal Communications Commission's telehealth program.
  • $98 million to improve broadband mapping.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to note additional funding for broadband mapping.

Go deeper

Congress releases text of $900 billion coronavirus relief bill

Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell. Photo: Brendan Smialowski-Pool/Getty Images

The House on Monday released the text of a $900 billion coronavirus relief package and $1.4 trillion government spending bill that Congress expects to pass before the holidays.

The state of play: The House will move quickly to pass the bill on Monday night, with the Senate likely to stay late to vote in the early hours of Tuesday morning. This gives lawmakers and their staff just hours to review a 5,593-page bill — one of the largest rescue packages in U.S. history.

Updated Dec 9, 2020 - Economy & Business

How to develop new skills for a post-pandemic America

The digitized workforce has arrived much earlier than experts previously thought.

What this means: Millions of Americans workers, particularly the nearly 70% who do not have a college degree, could be shut out of America’s fast-changing, techno-centric, post-pandemic economy.

At Google’s Powering Economic Opportunity: Digital Skills for the Future Workforce event, policy makers, thought leaders and experts came together to discuss how companies, nonprofits and governments can future-proof workers.

Key numbers: The Council on Foreign Relations reports that two-thirds of the 13 million jobs created in the U.S. since 2010 require a medium- to advanced-level of digital skills.

The solution, according to several policy makers and experts at the event: Alternative pathways to good-paying, fast-growing jobs.

Their top three potential fixes:

1. Expanding access to technology.

Participants agreed: Broadband access should be treated as a human right, and not a luxury accessible only to the few or to people living in large cities.

The reason: Reliable, affordable internet rests at the center of the future of work – and to economic recovery during and after COVID-19. And closing the digital divide – with more access to technology, for example – between under-resourced communities and their wealthier counterparts is key.

  • But there’s more behind this, as one event guest noted.

Enhancing access to broadband – and other key technologies like laptops and software – is just one step in the right direction. Training adults, not just children, to use these tools is the next.

2. Stepping up efforts to upskill or reskill Americans.

Some companies are already empowering people to develop digital skills that can help them transition into higher-paying, high growth jobs. Here’s how:

  • Training on digital fundamentals, like free Applied Digital Skills courses from Google, to help job seekers establish a foundation upon which they can build on to learn more advanced digital skills.
  • Creating alternative pathways to jobs that go beyond a traditional four-year college degree. Higher education institutions, government, and employers need to work together to give low wage workers access to higher-paying careers, like how the Markle Foundation’s Rework America Alliance and Skillful Initiative support local organizations, employers and governments to connect individuals to good jobs.
  • Developing avenues for employment with private companies after workers have completed skilling programs like Google’s IT Support Certificate, which includes a Hiring Consortium to help workers gain entry into IT Support, a critical job of the future.

What Google is saying:

“There are other Google career certificates coming out that help people move into these high-growth, good-paying jobs with less than a college degree. It's not the only solution, but I think it's one thing we're really excited about.”

– Andrew Dunckelman, Head of Impact and Insights, Google.org.

Why it’s important: Modern technologies, including AI and even cellphones, have slowly uprooted many jobs, leaving the workers with fewer options for work.

  • And this sudden shift is disproportionately impacting women and Black and Latino workers, especially those working in retail, experts at the event said.

3. Developing public-private partnerships that support a well-skilled workforce.

To advance economic recovery, many policy makers and experts at the event outlined the benefits of nonprofits, governments and companies working together to build up America’s digital skills.

  • For example, Google has partnered with different organizations to upskill Americans, like Per Scholas, the American Library Association and Goodwill.

The result: “We've trained more than 5 million Americans on digital skills,” says Andrew Dunckelman. “As we look ahead to recovery, you know, we think that we can help our economy recover quicker by expanding access to digital skills and technologies that Americans need.”

The takeaway: Although the pandemic has accelerated the start of the digitized workforce, together corporations, digital skilling programs and technology can help create better opportunities for all Americans. Learn more.

Prosecutors begin closing arguments in Chauvin trial

Steve Schleicher, an attorney for the prosecution in Derek Chauvin's trial, began closing arguments on Monday by describing in detail George Floyd's last moments — crying out for help and surrounded by strangers, as Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

Why it matters: The jury's verdict in Chauvin's murder trial, seen by advocates as one of the most crucial civil rights cases in decades, will reverberate across the country and have major implications in the fight for racial justice.