Calling high-speed Internet a “basic necessity,” Vice President Kamala Harris announced $175 million in Internet funding for historically Black colleges and universities.

Harris told a crowd Monday at Benedict College in South Carolina that affordable, high-speed Internet is “an essential part of everyday, modern life,” as she announced funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to improve Internet access at 61 HBCUs. Benedict College will receive close to $3 million.

“In America, in the 21st century, every person, no matter where they live and no matter how much they earn, should have high-speed Internet,” Harris said.

“Everyday in communities across our nation, students who have affordable access use the Internet to do their homework. Parents use the Internet to order groceries. Seniors use the Internet to see a doctor without having to leave home. And small-business owners use the Internet to buy inventory, to manage the payroll, even to run their cash register,” Harris said.

“And, yet, more than 24 million American households still do not have Internet access, including 137,000 families right here in South Carolina, either because they cannot afford the cost of high-speed Internet or because they live in a community, often a rural community, where high-speed Internet is just not available,” Harris added.

“I have heard so many stories about what it means when folks don’t have Internet. Students who have to sit in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant just to be able to submit their homework on public Wi-Fi,” Harris said, before touting the administration’s $65 billion plan through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to put high-speed Internet in every home.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden said the administration already had added “16 million more households with affordable Internet.”

And Harris said the plan already is adding jobs.

“Jobs for electric workers who install the fiber-optic cables. Jobs for technicians who will repair and replace those lines for years to come,” she said.

During Monday’s speech, Harris applauded Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., assistant minority leader who spoke before the vice president, for writing the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act to help connect every household in the country with “affordable and accessible high-speed Internet.”

“He is a national leader on so many issues — on the issues of poverty and civil rights and voting,” Harris said about Clyburn. “And, of course, a leader on the issue that brings us here together today: high-speed Internet.”

Harris also applauded the administration’s work to make the Internet more affordable through the Affordable Connectivity Program that gives “more than 16 million working families a $30 discount on their Internet bill.”

“And because we worked with Internet service providers to make sure they offer plans for $30 or less per month, with a $30 discount, a majority of these households can access Internet for zero dollars a month,” Harris said.

The program also allows a one-time discount of up to $100 for families to purchase a computer.

“We know when we connect folks with high-speed Internet, we connect them with opportunity — the opportunity to get an education, to train for a new career, to build a business and to see a doctor,” Harris said.

“We give people the power to build — for our collective benefit — healthier, happier and more prosperous lives for themselves and for the people they love.”

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