Congressional Republicans Continue EV Pushback

IIJA Funds to Repair, Develop Charging Stations
EV charging stations
"We must ensure that everyone, from the largest cities to the most rural communities, has access to reliable EV charging infrastructure," says Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. (Aranga87 via Getty Images)

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Senior congressional Republicans called on GOP leaders in the House and Senate to deny funding that would be used to advance proposals associated with electric vehicles.

Rep. John James (R-Mich.) was joined by nearly 100 lawmakers urging congressional leaders to prohibit fiscal 2024 legislation from funding the finalization of EV-centric guidance. At issue is an effort by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to proceed with certain fuel-economy standards. Critics argue NHTSA’s proposal would facilitate marketplace access for EVs at a rate unaffordable to a consumer bloc.

“Congress should prevent this disastrous proposed rule from going forward by including language in any funding bill that prevents any funds from being used to finalize, implement or enforce NHTSA’s recently proposed fuel-economy rule,” the lawmakers wrote last month to House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

“Federal agencies should not be working together to force Americans into driving expensive and impractical electric vehicles that are largely dependent on China’s manufacturing base,” they continued. “Similarly, we should not be dependent upon energy created by our global adversaries; these autos should be powered by American energy. Americans should keep the ability to choose the vehicle that best fits their needs and that they can afford.”

Rep. John James


Signatories of the letter to Johnson and McConnell included Republican Reps. Garret Graves of Louisiana and Rick Crawford of Arkansas, chairmen of the Aviation and Highways and Transit subcommittees, respectively.

NHTSA has proposed corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for passenger cars and light-duty trucks. The transportation agency explained its proposal, which resembles an effort by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, would “require an industry fleetwide average of approximately 58 miles per gallon for passenger cars and light trucks in [model year] 2032, by increasing fuel economy by 2% year-over-year for passenger cars and by 4% year-over-year for light trucks.”

The Biden administration last month announced grants for improving EVs’ reliability. Nearly $150 million was provided to agencies for repairing or replacing about 4,500 EV charging ports. The funds were approved in 2021’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

“The EV revolution is here. To make the most of it, we must ensure that everyone, from the largest cities to the most rural communities, has access to reliable EV charging infrastructure,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Jan. 18. “These grants bring us another step closer to a national EV charging network that keeps up with the EV transition that’s well underway.”

Jennifer Granholm


Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm added, “These investments will ensure that Americans have a convenient and reliable experience when they charge their vehicles at public stations.”

Groups, such as Automotive Alliance for Innovation, reacted to the administration’s latest attention to EV affordability. “We’ve got to build EV charging — everywhere,” John Bozzella, Alliance for Automotive Innovation CEO, said Jan. 19. “Charging might not be top of mind if you have access in your garage, but that’s the exception in the U.S. Getting more Americans comfortable with going electric starts with making sure they’ve got access — no matter their ZIP code — to reliable and ubiquitous public charging.”

Specific to fiscal 2024 funding negotiations, Congress approved short-term funding authority through March 1 for the U.S. Department of Transportation and nondefense agencies. Funding expires March 8 for defense-related agencies.

Last year, the Senate approved a fiscal 2024 transportation appropriations bill. The GOP-led House has not approved its transportation measure. The chambers’ transportation funding bills would each dedicate nearly $1 billion for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

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