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Remarks by Vice President Harris During Press Call on Investments in Tribal Broadband

By: Office of the Vice President

Via Teleconference

1:28 P.M. PDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everyone.  It is good to be with you. 

Before I begin, I will address the historic legislation that President Joe Biden will soon sign into law.  Because of President Biden’s leadership, our administration will lower healthcare costs, lower energy costs, fight the climate crisis, and create good-paying jobs. 

By doing so, we will create opportunity in communities across our nation, including Tribal communities.  We will fund climate resilience and adaptation programs to help Tribal communities address the climate crisis.  We will provide emergency drought relief to Tribal communities across the West.  We will electrify homes across Indian Country.  And we will help Tri- — Tribes build wind and solar power projects to lower the cost of electricity for Native families.

And as we make the largest investment in fighting climate change in our nation’s history, we will rely on the centuries of indigenous knowledge and experience Tribal communities have in protecting our Earth and reminding us all of how precious our earth is.

Our leadership, together in partnership with Tribal leadership, is essential to getting this work done.  Our administration is fighting to make sure every person in America has the opportunity to succeed and to thrive.

Today, we have convened this call to discuss one front in that fight: high-speed Internet.  In the 21st century, high-speed Internet is not a luxury, it is a necessity.  Without high-speed Internet, it is more difficult for students to take online classes; it is more difficult for seniors to book telehealth appointments, including for mental health; and it is more difficult for small-business owners to succeed.

As Vice President, I have spoken with leaders across Indian Country like Chumash Chairman Kenneth Kahn and Aaron Payments of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe.  And we have discussed the great need in Native communities for high-speed Internet.

Today, one in three Americans who live in rural areas and on Tribal lands lack access to high-speed Internet, and many more people cannot afford a high-speed Internet plan even when it is available. 

Every person in our country, no matter where they live, should be able to access and afford a high-speed Internet plan.  That is why today I am proud to announce $500 million in grants that are being awarded to Tribal applicants this month — including Tribal governments, Tribal schools, and utility companies in New Mexico, California, Arizona, Nebraska, South Dakota, Alaska, and more — including $26 million for Pueblo Isleta, whose governor, Vernon Abeita, has been a great advocate for connecting Indian Country.  And you will hear from him soon.

And last week, we made available an additional $1 billion in grants this year to connect Tribal communities — because we all know we are working hard, we are getting a lot done, but there are still so many communities that do not have access to high-speed Internet — too many. 

So, to make sure high-speed Internet is affordable to all communities, in addition to being accessible to Tribal communities, anyone living on Tribal lands with access to high-speed Internet can sign up to receive $75 off of their monthly Internet bill through the Affordable Connectivity Program.  So far, we have signed up 185,000 households in Native communities. 

To check whether you are eligible and to sign up — okay, I’m going to give you a website.  How can I do this without giving you a website?  (Laughs.)  It is GetInternet.gov.  GetInternet.gov. 

Please help us pass on that information.  We have found that when people know where to go, they do sign up, and it makes a big difference. 

So our administration’s vision is to connect all Native communities with the Internet and with the opportunity that comes along with access to affordable Internet — the opportunity to live healthier, happier, and more prosperous lives.  And we will continue to fight every day to make that vision a reality. 

Before I hop off, I will thank a leader who you will hear from in a moment, a champion in the fight to bring high-speed Internet to every person across Indian Country: White House Infrastructure Coordinator, Mitch Landrieu. 

Thank you all for joining.  Thank you for your leadership and your partnership.

                          END                 1:33 P.M. PD

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