- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 26, 2022

House Republicans are demanding transparency from the Biden administration about how it is spending more than $1.2 trillion in infrastructure funding that Congress approved last year.

Top Republican lawmakers on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said more clarity is needed given the size of the public works package and the “byzantine” bureaucracies responsible for its implementation. The Biden administration’s decision to appoint Mitch Landrieu as its unelected, unconfirmed “infrastructure czar” has done little to allay concerns, they said.

Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri, the top Republican on the committee, said that Mr. Landrieu has yet to brief members of Congress about his role, despite being on the job for nearly three months. 

In a letter sent to the White House on Wednesday, Mr. Graves called on Mr. Landrieu to appear before the committee and detail the process being used to disburse the money.

“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,” Mr. Graves wrote.

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Landrieu, a Democrat and former mayor of New Orleans, was tapped as the White House’s “infrastructure czar” 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.”

Congressional Republicans said the outreach did not extend to them. Apart from not being briefed by Mr. Landrieu, GOP lawmakers said there has been little effort to inform them as to whether infrastructure implementation deadlines are being met.

Mr. Graves says that being kept in the dark by the administration is problematic given the amount of taxpayer money at stake.

“Communication is critical to effective implementation of [the infrastructure package] and key members on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure have not received information on any of [your] efforts,” Mr. Graves wrote. “This will be essential to ensuring the responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars and protecting this substantial funding increase from waste, fraud, and abuse.” 

SEE ALSO: History As It Happens: When the U.S. built big things

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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