Liberal Democrat Chuck Schumer’s handpicked U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen has said he wants to get the Tennessee Valley Authority “to help expand broadband internet access to rural areas if elected.”
Bredesen made the remarks Tuesday in Clarksville, TN. There’s video of him speaking here.
He said he is committed to having Congress amend the federal TVA Act to allow the government-owned electricity provider to bring broadband access to underserved rural areas in Tennessee.
Bredesen says the “foundation” has been set by the TVA’s board approval in 2017 of $300 million to expand its network fiber capacity to improve the reliability of its transmission system— and by a law signed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam last year giving electric cooperatives the authority to provide broadband service.
His conservative Republican opponent, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, hit back immediately.
The leading GOP candidate to replace Corker is U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn. In a statement Tuesday, Blackburn said “broadband as a utility is a big government solution that will raise taxes.”
The focus should be on implementing the broadband access act signed by Haslam, Blackburn said.
“TVA should stay focused on its core mission, which has served Tennesseans well for decades,” she said.
This also isn’t the first time Blackburn has taken up the issue from a small government perspective.
Blackburn has addressed the broadband issue regularly, saying in January that she expected to introduce several pieces of legislation to remove the barriers to broadband expansion into rural areas.
“We are going to put this emphasis on getting broadband into these unserved rural areas because you’re not going to have economic development or 21st-century health care or expanded education opportunities or workforce and jobs retraining without it,” Blackburn said in January.
“Broadband as a utility is a big government solution that will raise taxes,” Blackburn said in a statement Tuesday. “Instead, we should be focusing on implementing Governor Haslam’s broadband bill, which will facilitate broadband expansion by putting forth initiatives such as allowing existing electric co-ops to form public private partnerships. TVA should stay focused on its core mission, which has served Tennesseans well for decades.”