House Republicans sparred with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sept. 20 over the Biden administration’s policy of subsidizing electric vehicle production at the expense of taxpayers and the auto industry.
“Despite the subsidization, the market is literally not adopting EVs, regardless of what we want to believe or what you want to say,” Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) told Mr. Buttigieg during a fiery exchange during a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing.
EV RevolutionUAW members are on strike against Detroit’s “Big Three” automakers of Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis. Workers contend that they deserve a larger share of the companies’ profits and are seeking wage increases of more than 30 percent over four years, among other demands.
While the automakers say they want to settle the strike, they’ve also stated they can’t afford to meet workers’ demands because of the cost of the transition to electric vehicles.
“Now, you’ve recently moved to Michigan, I understand it, and I just wonder what you have to say to Michiganders who feel the federal government is using their very tax dollars to destroy their industry and their jobs,” Mr. Perry said.
Mr. Buttigieg, in response, said that “either the EV revolution is going to be made in China or it’s going to be made in America” and that the Biden administration was working to ensure the latter. He noted that in doing so, the administration is investing in U.S. manufacturing.
“You’re investing with our money in things that we don’t want," the congressman said. "You realize that forcing car companies to make these vehicles at a loss—about $60,000 per vehicle sold—is damaging to the UAW’s jobs?”
While noting that most of his constituents can't afford the steep price tag of EVs, Mr. Perry noted that the costs of gas- and diesel-powered vehicles have also climbed.
He ended his questioning of Mr. Buttigieg by asking him to pledge to oppose any efforts to bail out the auto industry “after you force it into bankruptcy again.”
Instead, the secretary promised that he would “always be with auto jobs being preserved” and reinforced the administration’s desire to get ahead of China on EV production.
Reliability IssuesThe heated exchange follows the Biden administration’s announcement last week of providing up to $100 million in funding to repair and replace nonoperational electric vehicle charging stations.
The lack of reliably functional charging stations in areas across the United States remains a challenge for many electric vehicle owners across the United States and a sticking point for potential buyers.
Touching on the issue on Sept. 20, he conceded that those who drive long distances in their EVs are heavily reliant on charging infrastructure, “some of which isn’t there.”
Cold weather has been shown to drain EV batteries—a fact that could prove deadly for those in northern states during severe winter storms.
“Do you think that it’s fair for your administration to force constituents to purchase these electric vehicles when they’re not working, especially in northern Minnesota?” Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) asked the secretary.
Mr. Buttigieg said the administration was “not forcing anybody to purchase any technology.” However, earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed sweeping emissions cuts that, by 2032, would require two-thirds of all cars sold to be electric.
Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) said the primary reason for the overhaul appears to be that the administration is “chasing” carbon dioxide.
“The trillions and trillions we’re going to cost our kids to chase a tiny percentage of CO2 will bankrupt all of us and bankrupt our economy and ship it to China for all the other reasons," he said.