Republicans, and a couple of Democrats, have been pushing back on President Biden’s $7.5 billion plan to extensively build out EV infrastructure in the US by focusing on a short-term waiver that allows federally subsidized EV chargers to include materials from China. No can do, say Republicans aiming to block the waiver – but Biden exercised his veto power, for now at least.
The Republican-backed legislation was aimed at reversing the Biden’s administration’s waiver of Reagan-era “Buy America” requirements for government-funded electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, reports Reuters. The waiver offers some leeway in sourcing materials to make EV chargers outside the US, but opponents say it forces US taxpayers to subsidized Chinese-made products, and hurts American steel and iron companies.
Biden, argued, that the opposite is true, that the plan supports American workers, builds new jobs, and enables the chargers to be manufactured in the US, but pads in time for the private sector to prepare. Plus blocking the waiver would throw a wrench into the country’s transition to clean energy.
“This resolution would harm my Administration’s efforts to encourage investment in critical industries and bring high-quality jobs back to the United States,” Biden said in a veto statement, adding that it would “delay the significant progress being made by my Administration and the States in establishing the EV charging network.”
The waiver was initially put forth last year to except certain EV chargers from Buy American provisions as long as the chargers themselves are assembled in the US – but the provisions generally require that iron and steel be produced in the US.
As it stands, the EV chargers subsidized by the government must at least be assembled at a US factory starting in February. As of July, at least 55% of the construction materials must be sourced domestically and manufactured in the US.
The veto landed the same day that Biden’s re-election campaign won the endorsement of the United Auto Workers.
Well, the Senate is expected to overrule Biden’s veto in a few weeks, but it will need a two-thirds majority, which won’t be easy. President Biden has made the focus on transitioning American drivers to EVs a central part of his policy – while Republicans have been working hard to dismantle those efforts, and we’re sure to see more of this happening this year.
Biden argues that the $7.5 billion plan is a critical piece to building out a “convenient, affordable, reliable and made-in-America national network” of electric vehicle chargers, which includes some 500,000 publicly available chargers by 2030 – and ensuring they are working properly. Meanwhile, EV sales have quadrupled in the US, with the number of publicly available charging ports rising by nearly 70%. Today, more than 4 million EVs are on US roadways, with the goal for half of the country’s car sales to be electric by 2030.
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