News Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today criticized the Bush administration for its reported plans to slash federal funding for computers and Internet access for poor and underserved areas. She declared that she would fight any cuts, and work to support, not abandon, efforts to close the "digital divide."

According to reports published today, the Bush administration is planning to cut the Technology Opportunities Program, the federal initiative that funds telecommunications infrastructure in poor, rural and urban areas, by 65 percent from $42.5 million to $15 million.

"This is a question of priorities and this is a question of values," said Sen. Murray. "In the digital age, every child must be computer literate and must have access to the Internet. If President Bush were serious about his slogan 'leave no child behind,' then he would not cut off their ability to have access to computers and the Internet."

Other evidence of the Bush administration's lack of support for rural telecommunications efforts abounds. Earlier this month, the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Michael Powell, ridiculed the notion of a digital divide, saying it was "a Mercedes divide -- I'd like to have one, I can't afford one." Millions of children and working families across America know differently.

"We are now beginning to see the trade-offs that President Bush seems willing to make to pay for his tax cut. The question before us is not whether we will pass a tax cut this year, because we will. The questions are what that tax cut will look like, who will get the bulk of the benefits, and whether we will still support other crucial priorities," Murray said.