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Ted Cruz targets top Biden agency over billion-dollar grants being tied to 'equity,' climate change

FIRST ON FOX: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, is introducing a bill to block the Biden administration's woke funding requirements.

FIRST ON FOX: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, is planning to introduce a resolution Friday that would overturn the Biden administration's decision to tie certain federal funds to left-wing priorities.

Cruz's resolution particularly targets the Department of Transportation's (DOT) management of three grant programs that serve as key vehicles to fund various types of surface transportation projects nationwide. The DOT requires that recipients of the billions of dollars it is tasked with doling out under the programs "sufficiently" consider both equity and barriers to opportunity, and climate change and environmental justice in their planning.

"I intend to introduce a resolution under the Congressional Review Act, and I urge my colleagues to join me in blocking the Biden administration's efforts to tie up federal funding with radical environmental and racial equity requirements," Cruz told Fox News Digital in a statement.

"President Biden and Secretary Buttigieg should allocate grant funding by implementing the law as written instead of trying to direct taxpayer money to favored projects and constituencies," he continued.

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In June, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced that his agency had started accepting applications for the National Infrastructure Project Assistance, Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA), and Rural Surface Transportation Grant programs. The three programs received a collective $5.6 billion boost, most of which supports INFRA, under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021.

Buttigieg said the grants eventually awarded under the programs would support "transformational infrastructure projects across the nation."

But the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) the DOT issued as part of the grant awarding process announced in June states recipients must broadly address equity and climate concerns.

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"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 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," the document adds.

The two funding conditions cite President Biden's day-one executive order titled "Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government."

Following Buttigieg's announcement, Cruz wrote in July to the Government Accountability Office, asking for confirmation that the NOFO is a rule and, therefore, is subject to Congressional Review Act (CRA), a law dating back nearly three decades that allows Congress to revoke federal regulations. The federal watchdog responded Wednesday, saying it was, in fact, subject to the law.

Since Republicans took majority control of the House, they have passed numerous CRAs revoking Biden administration regulations. For example, Congress has passed resolutions revoking rules clamping down on water protections, regulating heavy-duty vehicle tailpipe emissions, listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken as "endangered," and an action to allow Chinese solar panel makers to avoid tariffs.

"When we began this Congress, one of my top priorities was to hold the Biden administration accountable for any overreach on environment and energy issues within our jurisdiction here at the EPW Committee," Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., previously told Fox News Digital regarding CRAs she led.

"We’re building on this successful track record and proving our bipartisan oversight efforts are well-founded, even in a divided Congress," she continued. "We’ll continue to use the tools at our disposal to lead the way in protecting American families, workers, and employers from the harmful, seemingly endless, regulations of the Biden administration."

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