Senate Republicans are organizing against a plan by the Biden administration that would tie billions in national transportation funding to “woke initiatives” focused on “equity” and “climate change.”
According to an internal Commerce Committee memorandum circulated by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), which was first obtained by Fox News Digital, “Billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars meant for infrastructure projects are tied to woke initiatives that are more focused on dismantling America’s infrastructure in the name of ‘equity’ and ‘climate change’ than building roads, bridges, and highways to connect the country.”
“Congress must not allow the Department of Transportation to push the absurd concept of ‘racist roads’ to prevent Americans from getting much-needed improvements to their highways,” the memo read, per Fox News. “The funding notices issued by DOT should focus on the law as written, not woke priorities.”
The memo expresses concerns about the priorities of the Department of Transportation (DOT) as led by Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who was the source of the “racist roads” reference in the memo. In November 2021, Buttigieg said that some roads were built with racist objectives in mind.
“I’m still surprised that some people were surprised when I pointed to the fact that if a highway was built for the purpose of dividing a white and a Black neighborhood … that obviously reflects racism,” he remarked at the time.
In June, the DOT announced $5.6 billion in additional funds for the National Infrastructure Project Assistance, Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA), and Rural Surface Transportation Grant programs that states can access only if the proposed projects address equity and climate concerns, per Fox News.
“Projects that have not sufficiently considered equity and barriers to opportunity in their planning, as determined by the Department, will be required to do so before receiving funds for construction,” the DOT’s Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) states.
“Projects that have not sufficiently considered climate change and environmental justice in their planning, as determined by the Department, will be required to do so before receiving funds for construction,” according to the NOFO.
According to the memo, Cruz will introduce a resolution to challenge “‘woke’ anti-highway policy in DOT grants,” as well as challenging DOT’s policy to oppose highway expansion projects that do not include electric vehicle charging stations and bike lanes.
The DOT spending is part of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that the Biden administration successfully shepherded through Congress in 2021, allocating $126 billion, or one-fifth of the total budget, to Sec. Buttigieg’s stewardship.