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The Treasury Department is not monitoring if governments are using the recovery money properly, Republican senators charge. They are asking the Government Accounting Office to investigate.
Senate Republicans are concerned that some of the $350 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds for states and local governments is being wasted, and this week, they asked the Government Accounting Office to investigate.
Fourteen Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee wrote the GAO saying there has not been enough congressional oversight of how the money is being used, and that the Treasury Department hasn’t made available detailed information as to whether states and localities are properly reporting how they’re using the money.
The lawmakers cited a Fortune report that said some of the ARPA money is going for “questionable uses,” including: $12 million for renovations of a minor league baseball stadium; $5 million for paying off debts of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate; $70 million for tourism marketing in Puerto Rico; $6.6 million to replace irrigation systems at two golf courses; $2.5 million to hire new parking enforcement officers in Washington, D.C.; and $2 million for a county to help purchase a privately owned ski area.
A Route Fifty examination found that while the funds are being used for a variety of Covid-19-related reasons, including replacing lost funds during the pandemic and addressing health and housing issues, money has also been used for such things as building African American history museums and renovating state buildings.
“In light of reports of [recovery] funds being used in states and localities for things seemingly unrelated that have nothing to do with responding to the public health emergency … or with making necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure, what controls in Treasury have been established to ensure that reported expenditures by states and localities abide by the restrictions on uses put in place in ARPA?,” the Republicans, led by Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho, the top Republican on the committee, asked GAO.
The senators also want the GAO to look into whether states are complying with an ARPA requirement that the money not be used to fund tax cuts or bolster pension funds, and whether states and localities have made reporting errors.
The Treasury Department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Kery Murakami is a senior reporter for Route Fifty.