GOP Senator Questions Public Funds Sign Promotion Directive

    The White House recently instructed federal agencies to erect numerous signs along national highways, attributing current infrastructure projects to President Joe Biden. This development has sparked controversy, particularly among Republicans. Notably, Senator Joni Ernst questions the legal and ethical implications of the directive, characterizing it as a misuse of public funds for campaign promotion.

    In February 2023, the Executive Office of the President’s Office of Management and Budget encouraged federal awarding agencies to oblige each grant recipient to display signs. According to the “Official Investing in American Emblem Style Guide,” these signs should credit Biden for laws enacted by Congress, stating each project was “Funded By President Joe Biden’s [Insert Name of Law].”

    The administration defends this strategy by asserting it keeps taxpayers informed about how federal funds are spent, thereby promoting accountability and transparency. However, Senator Ernst disagrees. In a recent letter to the Office of Management and Budget, she criticized the tactic, particularly given the upcoming November election.

    Ernst argued that these signs serve no infrastructural purpose and are primarily designed to secure Biden’s re-election. She pointed out that while the administration claims to promote “transparency,” it fails to comply with laws requiring the disclosure of the exact taxpayer money spent on each project.

    Various agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, have complied with the directive. Specific signage requirements for projects funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law or Inflation Reduction Act can be found on the EPA’s website.

    Past instances of Biden’s alleged misuse of taxpayer dollars for political gain have included emails to college graduates about loan forgiveness under his administration. What particularly concerns Ernst is the language on the signs, indicating that presidents themselves create laws.

    Ernst proposed that signs should instead highlight the financial pitfalls of Biden’s spending, citing the seven electric vehicle charging stations built with $7.5 billion over the past two years and the expensive 1.3-mile San Francisco rail extension as examples.

    She drew attention to potential violations of the Highway Beautification Act, which restricts signage on federal highways. She urged the Office of Management and Budget to reveal the cost of these signs and confirm whether they represent a misuse of government resources for political campaign purposes.

    Ernst requested the OMB clarify its steps to ensure project cost disclosure. She highlighted the fact that inflation, fueled by substantial federal spending, has effectively nullified the benefits of the stimulus package. She pointed out a nearly 70 percent increase in highway construction costs since Biden took office, which could reduce actual funds allocated to transportation by up to 40 percent over the next five years.



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