Press Releases

Washington – Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and 30 of their colleagues to send a letter to House and Senate leadership requesting robust funding for all K-12 students to have adequate home internet connectivity if their schools close due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

 “Children without connectivity are at risk of not only being unable to complete their homework during this pandemic, but being unable to continue their overall education,” write the lawmakers in their letter to Senate and House leadership. “Congress must address this issue by providing financial support specifically dedicated to expanding home internet access in the next emergency relief package so that no child falls behind in their education.”

In addition to Feinstein, Markey, Van Hollen, Bennet and Schatz, the letter was also signed by Senators Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-Penn.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tom Udall (D-Utah), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
United States Senate 
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Charles Schumer
Minority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510 

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510 

Dear Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, and Leader McCarthy:

We write to express our disappointment with the lack of funding dedicated for distance learning in the third coronavirus relief package that recently passed Congress. We have repeatedly called for concrete funding to help ensure that all K-12 students have adequate home internet connectivity if their schools close due to the ongoing pandemic. We believe that Congress must provide robust resources for these purposes, in order to guarantee that all children are able to continue their education during the current public health emergency. We request that the next coronavirus relief package include at least $2 billion in E-Rate funds for schools and libraries to provide Wi-Fi hotspots or other devices with Wi-Fi capability to students without adequate connectivity at their home. 

The coronavirus pandemic has shone a bright light on the “homework gap” experienced by the 12 million students in this country who do not have internet access at home and are unable to complete their homework — at a time when more than 70% of educators assign schoolwork that requires internet access. Research has shown that the homework gap affects students in both rural and urban areas and disproportionately affects lower-income students and students of color. Students without internet access at home consistently score lower in reading, math, and science.

We are very concerned that this existing inequity will only be exacerbated by the high number of schools that are suspending in-person classes and have transitioned to remote learning over the internet to protect the health of students, faculty, and staff. Children without connectivity are at risk of not only being unable to complete their homework during this pandemic, but being unable to continue their overall education. Congress must address this issue by providing financial support specifically dedicated to expanding home internet access in the next emergency relief package so that no child falls behind in their education.

We believe providing funds to the E-Rate program is the best way to help students continue their education at home. The E-Rate program is, and has been for over two decades, an essential source of funding to connect the nation’s schools and libraries to the internet. As the coronavirus pandemic develops, this program offers an immediate solution that may help mitigate the impact on our most vulnerable families. We believe additional funding for E-Rate would greatly narrow the homework gap during the current crisis and help ensure that all students can continue to learn. 

Congress must act in light of the unprecedented disruption that the coronavirus has created for our education system. We must work now to close the homework gap and ensure that all students who need internet access have the connectivity they need to continue learning from home.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Due to the closure of many Senate offices during the coronavirus outbreak, physical signatures are unavailable. The listed senators have asked to be signatories to this letter.

Sincerely,

Edward J. Markey
United States Senator

Michael F. Bennet
United States Senator 

Kamala D. Harris
United States Senator 

Christopher S. Murphy
United States Senator   

Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator

Angus S. King, Jr.
United States Senator 

Tammy Duckworth
United States Senator 

Jack Reed
United States Senator 

Tammy Baldwin
United States Senator 

Cory A. Booker
United States Senator 

Chris Van Hollen
United States Senator 

Brian Schatz
United States Senator

Richard Blumenthal
United States Senator 

Mazie K. Hirono

United States Senator 

Tim Kaine
United States Senator 

Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator 

Kirsten Gillibrand
United States Senator 

Jeffrey A. Merkley
United States Senator 

Christopher A. Coons
United States Senator 

Mark R. Warner
United States Senator 

Elizabeth Warren
United States Senator

Catherine Cortez Masto
United States Senator  

Sherrod Brown
United States Senator 

Jacky Rosen 
United States Senator

Amy Klobuchar
United States Senator 

Tina Smith
United States Senator 

Ron Wyden
United States Senator 

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator 

Bernard Sanders
United States Senator 

Thomas R. Carper
United States Senator 

Sheldon Whitehouse
United States Senator 

Robert Menendez
United States Senator 

Tom Udall
United States Senator 

Benjamin L. Cardin
United States Senator 

Patty Murray
United States Senator 

CC:

The Honorable Roger Wicker, Chairman, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

The Honorable Maria Cantwell, Ranking Member, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

The Honorable Frank Pallone, Chairman, Energy and Commerce Committee

The Honorable Greg Walden, Ranking Member, Energy and Commerce Committee

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