H.R. 5537, Digital GAP Act

H.R. 5537

Digital GAP Act

Rep. Ed Royce

September 7, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, September 7, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 5537, the Digital GAP Act, under suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on June 21, 2016, by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, on July 14, 2016 by voice vote.

Bill Summary

H.R. 5537 codifies and promotes many of the guiding principles and practices of the federal government’s efforts to promote internet access in developing countries. Specifically, the legislation:

  • Establishes a statement of policy for the United States that by 2020 the U.S. will help promote first-time internet access to mobile or broadband internet for at least 1.5 billion in developing countries and promoting internet deployment and capacity building.
  • Expresses the sense of Congress that the Secretary of State should designate an Assistant Secretary for Technology, International Communications, and Cyberspace to lead diplomatic cyberspace policy for internet access and governance;
  • Expresses the sense of Congress that USAID should integrate efforts to expand internet access, develop appropriate technologies, and enhance digital literacy;
  • Requires the President to direct U.S. representatives to appropriate international bodies to use the influence of the U.S. to promote gender-equitable internet access;
  • Requires the President to submit a report on efforts to promote partnerships by U.S. development agencies to provide internet access or internet infrastructure in developing countries; and
  • Requires the President to include in the next White House Cyberspace Strategy information relating to methods to promote internet access in developing countries and promote global internet freedom principles.


Since 2005, the number of internet users has more than tripled from 1,000,000,000 to 3,200,000,000. Currently, internet access in developing countries is hampered by a lack of infrastructure and a poor regulatory environment for investment. Approximately 4.2 billion, 60% of the world’s population, remain offline and the growth rate of internet access is slowing.  An estimated 75% of the offline population lives in just 20 countries and is largely rural, female, elderly, illiterate, and low-income.


The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that enacting H.R. 5537 would cost less than $500,000 over the 2017-2021 period, subject to the availability of appropriated funds. Enacting the legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues, and so pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. Further, CBO estimates implementing H.R. 5537 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 5-0190.