Press Releases

Chairman Graves Opening Statement from Hearing on DOT Discretionary Grants

Washington, D.C., March 7, 2024 | Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446
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Washington, D.C. – Opening remarks, as prepared, of Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) from today’s hearing, entitled “Department of Transportation Discretionary Grants: Stakeholder Perspectives”:

We are here today to discuss discretionary grant programs at the Department of Transportation (DOT) and to hear firsthand from stakeholders about their experiences with the Department’s grant processes.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) authorized $196 billion over five years for new and existing DOT competitive grant programs. This represents 30 percent of the total funding provided by IIJA.

The Committee has a keen interest in ensuring these taxpayer-funded grants follow the intent of the law and support projects that actually improve our Nation’s infrastructure network and supply chain.

The Committee has heard concerns from stakeholders regarding the implementation of IIJA, specifically citing the Department’s delay and inconsistency with the issuance of Notices of Funding Opportunity, or NOFOs, and the length of time it takes to execute grant agreements after an award has been announced.

On the front end of the process, NOFOs have incorporated the Administration’s Executive Orders on climate, equity, and environmental justice into their grant criteria, requiring applicants to demonstrate effort in advancing the Administration’s progressive agenda.

For example, a recipient of a 2023 Safe Streets and Roads for All grant award not only must certify compliance with 75 federal laws and regulations, but they must also certify compliance with 12 executive orders. These additional criteria may exclude otherwise qualified projects from receiving federal funding for worthwhile infrastructure improvements.

On the back end, grant recipients are experiencing longer than normal wait times for the execution of grant agreements. As a result, IIJA funds are trickling out, limiting the ability of stakeholders to put these funds to use.

As the Committee prepares for the next highway bill in the next Congress, it is important that we continue to ensure the best use of our infrastructure funding and find ways to improve the grant process.

I also look forward to hearing from each of our witnesses today, including one from my district who I’ll introduce later, about their experience in applying for federal funding, and how they are using federal dollars to improve the state of our Nation’s transportation network.

Click here for more information from today’s hearing, including video and witness testimony.

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