Partisan Politics Threaten Transportation Grant Program

House votes to end funding for Obama administration's TIGER grants; Republicans say they simply shift earmarking from Congress to the Oval Office

TIGER grants delivered $3.1 billion nationwide in four rounds of funding but Republicans want to kill the program, which they say has been overly politicized by the Obama administration. The House voted to nix future funding earlier this year. And a six-month extension of current spending laws means it won’t become clear until after the election whether TIGER will survive.

The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program started during the recession as a way to pour quick money into national and regional transportation projects. The U.S. Department of Transportation created detailed cost-benefit studies and evaluates aspects like project readiness, public usefulness and economic competitiveness.

Critics say the selection process -- which was intended as an upgrade to Congressional backroom decisions -- is no improvement, and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) has labeled the grants "executive earmarks."

The administration counters that the House decision not to fund the grants is a political move.

(More on the future of TIGER grants . . . )