President Biden on Wednesday vetoed a Republican-led effort that could have derailed the administration’s plan to invest $7.5 billion to build electric vehicle charging stations across the country.
When issuing the veto, Mr. Biden argued that Congress’s proposal would harm domestic manufacturing as well as the clean energy transition.
“If enacted, this proposal would undermine the hundreds of millions of dollars that the private sector has already invested in domestic EV charging manufacturing, and discourage further domestic investment in this important market,” Mr. Biden said in a statement. Will slow it down.”
The move comes amid growing political divisions over electric vehicles. The Biden administration is aggressively promoting them as a key part of the fight to slow global warming. The Inflation Reduction Act, the landmark climate legislation signed by Mr. Biden in 2022, provides incentives for consumers to buy electric vehicles and for manufacturers to make them in the United States.
Mr Biden’s potential challenger in the 2024 election is former President Donald J. Republicans, including Trump, have attacked electric vehicles as unreliable, inconvenient and handing over America’s auto manufacturing to China, which dominates the supply chain for electric vehicles.
Republicans, along with some Democrats, voted to revoke a waiver issued by the Biden administration that allows federally funded electric vehicle chargers to be made from imported iron and steel, as long as they are assembled in the United States.
The “Buy American” requirement of the 2021 infrastructure legislation says iron and steel produced in the United States must be used for projects funded by the Federal Highway Administration Act. The legislation includes $7.5 billion to create a national network to recharge electric vehicles.
Installing electric vehicle charging stations is a top priority of the administration as surveys show that many motorists who are interested in purchasing an EV are hesitant in doing so due to lack of convenient charging stations.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida introduced an effort to eliminate the exemption. “It hurts American companies and gives foreign adversaries like China the right to control our energy infrastructure,” he said in July. “We should never use US dollars to subsidize Chinese-made products.”
On Wednesday, after learning of Mr Biden’s veto, Mr Rubio wrote on the social media platform X, “Why is he sending American taxpayer dollars to Chinese companies?”
The White House argued that by repealing the exemption, lawmakers were actually blocking made-in-America requirements.
This is because repeal would have resulted in a return to the 1983 policy that waived domestic requirements for many manufactured products. That would have made it more likely that federal money “would be spent on chargers made in competing countries like the People’s Republic of China,” Mr. Biden said in his veto statement.
In November the Senate voted 50-48 to repeal Wavier, with Democrats Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana joining Republicans to remove the exemption. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky was the only Republican to oppose the measure.
The House voted 209 to 198 in January for repeal. Two Democrats, Jared Golden of Maine and Donald Davis of North Carolina, voted with Republicans in favor of the measure. Two Republicans, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Tom McClintock of California, opposed it.