USDA plans to dip into infrastructure bills as reconnect demand grows: Broadband Breakfast

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2022 — The acting administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service said Wednesday his office has generated so much interest in the third round for its broadband fund that he was considering tapping into other federal infrastructure funds to meet the demand. .

Christopher McLeanwho joined Broadband Breakfast for its weekly event on Wednesday, said the ReConnect program’s latest round of funding received 305 applications requesting a total of $4.8 billion, but the program only allocated $1.15 billion. dollars for the round.

McLean said while his office is currently evaluating applications, it is also considering tapping into the $2 billion allocated to the office under the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act to meet demand for construction. designed to connect the underserved.

“We announced that as more funds become available, we reserve the right to apply additional funds to this $1.15 billion funding pool. We received many more applications than we had dollars in that initial allocation,” McLean said.

Photo of Christopher McLean and Drew Clark at the Broadband Breakfast Live Online event on Wednesday.

McLean added that the USDA expects to announce third-round winners this summer and is preparing to announce an additional fourth round.

In a keynote at Fiber Connect 2020, Chad Rupeadministrator of the RUS stated that “the USDA RUS offers one of the cheapest, the most reliable sources of capital.”

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesdays at noon ET. You can also join LIVE ONLINE in the ongoing Broadband Breakfast Live Online event on Zoom.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022, 12 p.m. ET — Preparing for Federal Broadband Funding with Christopher McLean of the Rural Utilities Service

High speed breakfast Drew Clark will be the host Christopher McLean, Acting Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service for a fireside chat about broadband funding, including the ReConnect program, RUS’s longstanding mandate to improve rural telecommunications, electricity and broadband infrastructure, and how other federal programs will interact with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Guests for this Broadband Breakfast for Lunch session:

  • Christopher McLeanActing Administrator, USDA Rural Utilities Service
  • Drew Clark (Host), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

In addition to acting as interim administrator of the Rural Public Services Department, Christopher McLean also serves as Deputy Administrator for Electrical Programs at RUS. He was appointed to the role on January 11, 2015. This is Chris’ third time with the agency. As AAE, Chris manages a $46 billion loan portfolio. In recent years, the annual loan budget of the RUS has exceeded $5 billion. The agency provides low-interest loans for rural electricity infrastructure, renewable energy, smart grids and energy efficiency. Prior to his return to the RUS, Chris was Acting Director of the Program Planning and Accountability Division of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the United States Department of Agriculture. He joined OASCR in 2013 as a civil rights officer in the Policy Office. From 2010 to 2012, Chris served as Senior Advisor to the Administrator of the Rural Utilities Department. Chris was in private practice from 2001 to 2010. He was co-owner of e-Copernicus, a consulting firm specializing in telecommunications, transport and technology policy. Chris is also the former executive director of the Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition. He is also a former director of the RUS and a former governor of the Rural Telephone Bank. He was appointed deputy administrator in January 1998. In 2000, he was the first person appointed and confirmed as administrator of the RUS. He is originally from Omaha, Nebraska. He earned an LL.M. in international and comparative law from Georgetown University in 1985, a Juris Doctorate from Creighton University School of Law in 1982, and a degree in business administration from Creighton University. in 1980.

Drew Clark is the editor and publisher of and a nationally respected telecommunications attorney. Drew brings together experts and practitioners to advance the benefits offered by broadband. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he spearheaded a State Broadband Initiative, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois. He is also president of the Congress of Rural Telecommunications.

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