President Biden’s infrastructure czar Mitch Landrieu is ignoring calls for transparency on how the administration is doling out more than $1.2 trillion in taxpayer dollars for new road, highway and port projects, according to Republican lawmakers.
Mr. Landrieu rejected requests from GOP members of the House Transportation Committee for briefings on his role and the process for disbursing the money.
Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri, the top Republican on the transport panel, told the Washington Times that a request for a bipartisan briefing was made on Jan. 25 in a letter to the White House. Mr. Graves and his colleagues requested a briefing by Feb. 9 but the request was ignored by the White House, he said.
“I haven’t heard a word from top White House officials, but frankly I’m not surprised,” said Mr. Graves. “Given some of the administration’s other recent actions, it is becoming clearer that they are less concerned about properly implementing this infrastructure law and more focused on shoehorning it into their woke agenda.”
Republicans noted that Mr. Landrieu met the 98 Democratic members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Feb. 3 to discuss infrastructure priorities.
“It’s hard not to notice that Mr. Landrieu is prioritizing briefings with other members over our committee, despite the fact that we’re the members that directly oversee the largest portion of this law,” said Mr. Graves.
GOP lawmakers said they requested the briefing to learn more about how Mr. Landrieu, a political appointee, is managing the infrastructure money. Since being appointed as Mr. Biden’s infrastructure czar in November 2021, Mr. Landrieu has had little contact with GOP members of the committee.
Mr. Graves said the radio silence is particularly concerning given the size of the public works package and the byzantine bureaucracies responsible for its implementation.
“With inflation spiraling out of control, now more than ever, oversight is essential to the effective implementation of the law and the use of the dollars it authorizes,” he said.
The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Mr. Landrieu, a Democrat and former mayor of New Orleans, was tapped for the infrastructure job in November 2021. The appointment came shortly after Congress passed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which is the largest investment ever made in fixing the nation’s roads and bridges.
Since taking on the role, Mr. Landrieu has prioritized building relationships with state and local leaders. Earlier this month, he told reporters during a White House press conference that his team had already begun discussions with all 50 state governors about how to spend the taxpayer dollars.
“The fact of the matter is that most of the building will actually be done by states, by the cities, by the counties, by the tribal leaders,” Mr. Landrieu said. “That’s why our team, and me personally, have been reaching out — extensive outreach to state and local officials.”
Mr. Landrieu’s contact with congressional lawmakers, however, has been disparate as evidenced by his willingness to meet with the Congressional Progressive Caucus and not members of the House Transportation Committee.
“We’ll keep pressing the White House to meet with us, discuss their plans, and answer questions because we remain concerned that their focus appears more aligned with elements of the Green New Deal instead of with the law that Congress actually passed,” said Mr. Graves.