By the White House's own admission, inadequate broadband access "stunts economic growth and prevents many rural Americans from engaging in the modern economy."

Meanwhile, Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai recently proposed drastically limiting the broadband options available to poor Americans through the government's Lifeline program.

Pai says it would help "curb waste, fraud, and abuse."

That's why on Monday he and a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including fellow California Democrat Anna Eshoo and Pennsylvania Republicans Ryan Costello and Brian Fitzpatrick, introduced a bill to prove just how big a return on investment broadband access can provide for a community.

Called the Measuring the Economic Impact of Broadband Act of 2017, it proposes that the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis study the effect of broadband access on employment, income, education, and population growth, among other things.

"The data that might come from this, I think will create a more compelling public policy imperative."

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