Internal Senate memo highlights Biden admin efforts to tie highway funding to woke priorities

A memo circulated by the Senate Commerce Committee Republicans among members of Congress highlights how the Biden Administration is using taxpayer money to fund “woke initiatives.”

The memo was first obtained by Fox News Digital and sent late Monday night. It is spearheaded by Ted Cruz, R. Texas, Ranking Member of the Commerce Committee, who plans to introduce legislation to prohibit the Department of Transportation from tying federal funding to left-wing agendas. The memo focuses on DOT’s administration of three grant programs, which are used to fund a variety of surface transportation projects across the country.

The memo says: “Billions and billions of dollars of taxpayer money meant for infrastructure are tied to woke initiatives which are more focused on destroying America’s infrastructure under the name of “equity” and ‘climate changes’ than building highways, roads, and bridges to connect the nation.”

The report continued, “Congress cannot allow the Department of Transportation (DOT) to use the absurd concept of racist roads to stop Americans from receiving much-needed highway improvements,” it said. The funding notices from DOT should be based on the law, as it is written, and not woke priorities.


Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg made an announcement in June that his agency was now accepting applications for its Rural Surface Transportation Grant, Infrastructure for Rebuilding America, and National Infrastructure Project Assistance programs. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act 2021 provided a boost of $5.6 billion to the three programs, with most of it going towards INFRA.

Buttigieg stated that the grants ultimately awarded would support “transformational projects in infrastructure across the country.” However, the Notice of Funding Opportunity(NOFO) issued by the DOT as part of the grant awarding procedure states that recipients must address broad equity and climate concerns.

The NOFO of the DOT states that “Projects which have not adequately considered equity and barriers in their planning as determined by the Department will be required to comply before receiving funding for construction.”

The document states that “Projects which have not adequately considered climate change or environmental justice in their plans, as determined by Department, will need to do so before they receive funds for construction.”

The two funding conditions are based on President Biden’s executive order of day one, titled “Advancing Race Equity and Support to Underserved Community Through the Federal Government.”

Cruz, in response to Buttigieg’s announcement, wrote to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in July, asking confirmation that the NOFO was a rule, and therefore subject to Congressional Review Act. This law, which dates back to nearly 30 years, allows Congress to revoke regulations. Last month, the federal watchdog confirmed that it is indeed subject to law.

According to a memo circulated on Monday, Cruz is preparing a CRA Resolution “challenging woke anti-highway policies in DOT Grants.” It will also target other DOT Policies such as framing the road building as increasing automobile dependence and condemning highway extension projects that do not include electric vehicle charging stations or bicycle lanes.

The memo states that “taken together, the additions which are a severe deviation from the criteria of law will favor states who want to expand mass transit, bike paths, over states who want to build roads.” “The added requirements for grant agreements are especially harmful,” says the memo.

The document states that “the DOT funding notification guarantees that applicants won’t get construction funds unless the embrace the administration’s extreme views on equity and climate,” calling on Congress to support Cruz’s forthcoming resolution opposing the Biden administration’s “anti highway agenda”.

Since years, activists and left-wing organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union have claimed that U.S. cities used highway infrastructure historically to promote racist discrimination. Buttigieg aims to reverse racist policies from the past that have led to certain decisions in infrastructure.

Buttigieg told theGrio that racism was built into our highways. “The jobs plan specifically commits to reconnecting some of the community that were separated by these dollars,” he said in a 2021 interview.

Buttigieg will launch the Reconnecting Communities Program in June 2022. This $1 billion program aims to reverse infrastructure policy that divides communities and isolates certain neighborhoods from economic opportunity.

Buttigieg stated at the time that “transportation can connect us with jobs, services, and our loved ones. But we’ve seen countless instances around the country when a piece infrastructure cuts off a neighbourhood or a locality because of the way it was constructed.”

He said: “But we cannot ignore the fact that some planners and politicians who backed these projects built them right through the middle of vibrant, populated communities, sometimes to reinforce segregation.” Sometimes because people had less power to fight back. Sometimes as a part of an effort to eliminate or replace Black neighborhoods.

The DOT did not immediately respond to a comment request.