Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO) asked White House Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu for a full Committee briefing on the Biden administration’s plans to implement the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). This briefing will help provide informed congressional oversight; ensure that IIJA is being implemented according to Congress’ intent; and prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.
“While I am aware that your Task Force has engaged in various media events and outreach to governors and mayors, you have yet to fully engage all relevant Members of Congress on these matters,” Graves said in his request letter to Landrieu.
Graves emphasized the importance, now that IIJA is law, of ensuring that states and entities receiving funding from IIJA can address their specific needs and that past mistakes are not repeated, such as during implementation of 2009’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. He raised concerns that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently encouraged potential funding recipients to “prioritize the repair, rehabilitation, reconstruction, replacement, and maintenance of existing transportation infrastructure, especially the incorporation of safety, accessibility, multimodal, and resilience features. Projects to be prioritized include those that maximize the existing right-of-way for accommodation of non-motorized modes and transit options that increase safety, accessibility, and/or connectivity.”
Graves said this FHWA guidance appears to prioritize certain types of investment based on the Biden administration’s agenda, which, “may not be respecting recipients’ decisions on how to best use their federal transportation funding…. We must ensure that eligible projects are evaluated on statutory criteria and are not penalized merely because they add capacity to our transportation network. Therefore, we need insight into how the Task Force, the DOT, and other agencies plan to adhere to congressional intent and meet the deadlines mandated within IIJA. This will be essential to ensuring the responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars and protecting this substantial funding increase from waste, fraud, and abuse.”
Ranking Member Graves said that it’s imperative the Committee briefing by Landrieu occur no later than February 9th. Some initial deadlines established under the law have already passed, and Committee Members want to know that the Task Force is properly and effectively coordinating IIJA implementation actions.
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