Biden State Department in the hot seat after millions of dollars in 'pet projects' reviewed

Sen Eric Schmitt is probing the department as his constituents face a passport backlog

The millions of dollars President Biden's State Department has put toward "pet projects" is coming under a microscope as delays plague areas of the department. 

Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Mo, sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday demanding answers regarding large amounts of money the department has dropped into the likes of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives and environmental funding abroad as his constituents face "unprecedented delays" in passport processing times.

"Unnecessary expenditures by the State Department on pet projects of little or no value to the American taxpayer all while continuing to struggle with the passport backlog underscores how misplaced Antony Blinken and this entire Administration’s priorities are," Schmitt said in a statement.


biden state department in the hot seat after millions of dollars in pet projects reviewed

Missouri Senator Eric Schmitt listens during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. ( Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

"I promised Missourians that I would hold this Administration’s feet to the fire on this issue, and I intend to get to the bottom of this irresponsible spending and lack of action on passport backlogs," Schmitt added.

Within the letter, Schmitt noted that instead of hiring additional employees to help with backlogged passport applications, the department chose to "spend tens of millions of dollars on useless pet projects with little to no benefit to American citizens."

Schmitt, in particular, listed a handful of department expenditures that includes $120,000 for "Gastrodiplomacy." $1,565,000 for foreign sports or Esports-Adjacent Projects, $400,000 on Chinese efforts to combat wildlife trafficking and $30,699,850 for DEI or environmental funding abroad. 

biden state department in the hot seat after millions of dollars in pet projects reviewed

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a news conference with Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan at the State Department, Friday, June 16, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

"Due to the Department of State's commitment to these pet projects rather than improving the processing times for Americans' passport applications, my Office has received an abundance of requests for help with processing their applications," Schmitt wrote. 


biden state department in the hot seat after millions of dollars in pet projects reviewed

President Biden's State Department has pushed tens of millions toward DEI initiatives and environmental funding abroad. (Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

"Since I took office in January, my team has received over 500 requests regarding delays with receiving their passports. That is unconscionable, and the State Department should be doing everything in its power to speed up processing times in order for American citizens to get the service they deserve," he added. 

Schmitt concluded by asking a series of questions, including what efforts the State Department is taking to hire for passport processing, if there is currently a shortage of individuals to process passport applications and what specific initiatives receive appropriation from the $30 million toward DEI initiatives and international environmental funding. 

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Fox News Digital's Aubrie Spady contributed to this report.

Joe Schoffstall is a politics producer/reporter for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and on Twitter: @joeschoffstall

Authored by Joe Schoffstall via FoxNews July 24th 2023