The Department of Transportation (DOT) this week announced $1.5 billion in new grant funding that favors transportation infrastructure projects that address Democratic priorities like environmental sustainability, climate change and the promotion of union jobs.
The money is being offered under the department’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grant program. The DOT said these grants help state, local and tribal governments complete local infrastructure projects, and prioritize a range of factors that include many supported by Democrats.
“As was the case last year, the department is encouraging applicants to consider how their projects can address climate change, ensure racial equity, and remove barriers to opportunity,” the DOT said. “The Department also intends to use the RAISE program to support wealth creation and the creation of good-paying jobs with the free and fair choice to join a union, the incorporation of strong labor standards, and training and placement programs, especially registered apprenticeships.”
In a notice explaining the grant, the DOT said the grants will be awarded consistent with several executive orders from President Biden. One of those is aimed at “advancing racial equity,” and another supports the goals of “tackling the climate crisis at home and abroad.”
“Each applicant selected for RAISE grant funding must demonstrate effort to improve racial equity and reduce barriers to opportunity,” the notice said. If applicants fail to meet this goal, they will be, “required to propose a new activity to be completed prior to obligation of construction funds that addresses racial equity and barriers to opportunity.”
The notice said broadly that grant funding would be more likely to be approved the more these sorts of criteria are met. On the environment, for example, it suggested projects that reduce pollution in “underserved communities,” reduce vehicle miles traveled and shift to “lower-carbon travel modes” are favored.
It also outlines several ways of meeting “partnership and collaboration” goals, including by ensuring “equity considerations for underserved communities,” working with minority, women and veteran-owned businesses, and working with unions.
Funding for the RAISE grants comes from the $1 trillion that Biden signed in late 2021.
“The historic investments the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing today will help communities across the country modernize their transportation,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “After decades of underinvestment in America’s infrastructure, we are supporting projects that help people and goods get where they need to go more safely, efficiently, and affordably.”
Sen. Josh Hawley criticized Biden’s infrastructure bill after its passage last August.
“This isn’t an infrastructure bill. This is a radical left woke politics bill that has stuff like gender identity mandates in it,” he said.