Policymakers raise issue of federal oversight of infrastructure investments

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Congressional transportation officials are raising the issue of oversight of how states will spend $1.2 trillion in federal infrastructure funding.

Representatives Sam Graves (Mo.) and James Comer (Ky.), both Republicans, raised concerns about avoiding unnecessary or fraudulent spending in a March 3 letter they sent to Mitch Landrieu, the senior White House adviser and infrastructure coordinator heading the Biden administration. implementing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which Biden signed into law in November.

“This massive spending bill is largely a combination of lump sums broadly categorizing what the money needs to go, which unfortunately leaves the door open for the administration to pursue its ‘woke’ priorities rather than d ‘allocate the funds based on the real needs of the States. . The expansive purpose for which the funds have been allocated, as well as the scale of the expenditures, create a greater than usual opportunity for corruption and wasteful spending’, stated the letter.

Graves is a ranking member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, while Comer is a ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. They asked for documents and information to determine whether infrastructure funds are spent effectively and efficiently.

Graves also joined Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DD.C.) March 2 during a meeting with highway and transportation officials in Washington, D.C., to discuss congressional oversight of how states choose infrastructure projects , especially now that the federal government has granted flexibility. in how funds are spent.

Holmes Norton

“What worries me is the waste and fraud and abuse that can come from so much money thrown at so many different things and the removal of these safeguards,” Graves told attendees during the AASHTO 2022 briefing in Washington, held on March 1. 4 by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. “It will depend on all of you. That’s a big part of what you do, obviously, to move these projects forward and hopefully keep them on track and keep them on budget.

Holmes Norton reminded the AASHTO audience that his subcommittee will oversee how infrastructure investment programs are implemented and spent.

“You can help us with that,” she added. Holmes Norton is chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Public Transit.

She said states are able to apply federal dollars to projects that make sense in local communities, but implementation guidance is needed from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“Flexibility is not the same as complete autonomy to use federal dollars,” Holmes Norton said. “Through your implementation efforts, we can transform the places where Americans live and work to create a better world for future generations.”

State spending flexibility was also raised by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg during a March 3 speech at the AASHTO event.

“I want you to know that I recognize the value and importance of your flexibility to effectively deploy the resources from this infrastructure law. I can commit to working with you to ensure that you have the right level of flexibility, consistent with the Infrastructure Act and the core priorities that guided its creation and guide our administration,” he said.

Buttigieg urged state officials to be guided by future needs when selecting projects and to avoid relying on what has worked in the past.

“We know there are many ways to achieve the goals we share, and there is no one size fits all. I hope you exercise that flexibility knowing how important the projects you choose to prioritize are,” he said.

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