The House on July 12 approved by voice vote a bill that would provide surplus Federal government computer gear to educational institutions, veterans, individuals with disabilities, low-income individuals, students, or seniors in need.

The Computers for Veterans and Students Act (HR 3544) would direct the General Services Administration (GSA) to transfer “surplus computers and equipment” from Federal agencies to nonprofit groups that would then refurbish the equipment, and send the gear along to those recipient groups.

Sponsors of the bill – including Reps. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., Rob Wittman, R-Va., and Elaine Luria, D-Va. – said when they introduced the legislation that it aims to help to close the digital divide. The House Oversight and Reform Committee approved the measure in April.

According to text of the legislation, GSA’s Computers for Learning Program already distributes surplus computer gear to schools and educational nonprofits, but it does not allow the equipment to be transferred directly to refurbishers. The bill approved by the House would require refurbishers receiving the surplus equipment to also offer training courses on the use of the technology.

“More jobs and hiring processes are moving online,” Rep. Spanberger said after the House vote. “But for the millions of U.S. households without a computer, this transition means access to fewer opportunities and even more difficulties in getting ahead … Today, the U.S. House made major progress towards closing this gap and providing veterans, students, and seniors with the tools they need to succeed.”

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