Government Relations Update February 2019
RUS Amends Dates for Reconnect Program
In an announcement posted in the Federal Register on February 25, the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) provided new information on the $600 million broadband pilot Reconnect Program. RUS has adjusted the application submission deadlines for each of the three funding categories to the following:
Grant Applications: May 31, 2019
Grant and Loan Combination Applications: June 21, 2019
Loan Applications: July 12, 2019
RUS will provide further information in March on when the agency will begin to accept applications.
Renewed Shutdown Averted by Signing of Funding Bill
On February 15, 2019 the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 (H.J.Res. 31) was signed into law. The passage and signing of this bill prevented the possible renewal of the 35-day government shutdown that had been temporarily ended by a short-term agreement on January 25. The bill provides funding for the remainder of FY2019 to federal agencies affected by the remaining seven appropriations bills that had not been passed by the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1, 2018. These include Homeland Security, Agriculture, Financial Services, Interior and Environment, State, Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, and Commerce, Justice, and Science.
Included in the bill is $8.1 billion in funding for NSF, an increase of nearly $700 million from FY2018, with $400 million of that increase being directed specifically to the Research and Research Related Activities account. Additionally, the bill funds the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) at $1.3 billion, an increase of $17 million from FY2018. The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) received $99.7 million for broadband program, an increase of $12 million from FY2018. Finally, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) received $39.5 million, an increase of almost $8 million from FY2018.