Sen. David Vitter, R-La., suggested today that Democratic lawmakers get preferential treatment over Republican colleagues when applying for stimulus grants that fund transportation projects, given that almost three-quarters of the grant money has been spent in Democratic districts.Vitter noted the following in a press release:
President Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill contained funding for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program grants. Democratic districts have received $356,109,553 from the program, compared to just $132,272,695 for Republican districts.
“There is a growing need for real improvement in our infrastructure in every corner of this country,” Vitter said in a statement Thursday. “It is essential that grant projects are selected on a transparent, merit-based set of criteria, not the voting trends of the region. I’m concerned that politics have entered into the process with the TIGER grants, which is why I’ll continue advocating for reforms.”
Earlier this month, the senator asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate how grants are awarded.
In 2011, GAO [the Government Accountability Office] reported transparency concerns with the program saying "DOT [the Department of Transportation] cannot definitively demonstrate the basis for its award selections, particularly the reasons why recommended projects were selected for half the awards over highly recommended ones."