Senate bill looks to back broadband with $654 million

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The Senate Appropriations Committee this week passed a FY05 bill to allocate $654 million in loans and grants for broadband access and for programs to improve telemedicine and distance learning.

Of the Senate's appropriation, $600 million would go to broadband loans and $9 million would be designated for direct grants. The committee listed in its report 15 organizations that it encouraged the Department of Agriculture to consider for the grants. The House in June passed its version of the bill, which would allocate $548 million, of which $514 million would be for loans and $9 million would be for grants.

The remaining amount from both the Senate and House versions of the bill would go toward telemedicine and distance learning loans and grants.