US House Republicans | Credits: Getty Images
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House Republicans reject Biden’s EV mandate in landmark vote

Washington, United States: House Republicans voted Wednesday to deny harsh new tailpipe pollution rules proposed by the Biden administration, branding the measure a backdoor mandate for electric vehicles.

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a regulation that would require up to two-thirds of new vehicles sold in the United States to be electric by 2032, a nearly tenfold increase over current EV sales. The proposed regulation, published in April, would impose the harshest tailpipe pollution restrictions ever imposed — and demand for significantly more new EV sales than the car industry committed to less than two years ago, according to the Associated Press.

The EPA claimed that there will be no EV mandate, but Republicans claim the plan favors EVs while punishing gas engines, driving Americans into vehicles and trucks they can’t afford.

Visual Representation of Electric Vehicle | Credits: Dreamstime

“Americans should have the right to decide what products and appliances work best for their family, not the federal government,” said Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., the bill’s chief sponsor.

The new EPA regulation would raise vehicle costs and “hand the keys of America’s auto industry to China,” according to Walberg, indicating China’s supremacy in the EV battery supply chain.

Bill reaches to the Senate

The bill was adopted 221-197 and now heads to the Senate, where it is unlikely to be heard. Five Democrats voted with Republicans to defeat the EPA rule: Reps. Henry Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, Don Davis of North Carolina, Jared Golden of Maine, and Mary Peltola of Alaska.

New EVs are normally more expensive than gas-powered vehicles. However, costs have fallen in recent months as supply has expanded and tax subsidies for EV sales granted in the 2022 climate bill have gone into effect. Because they do not use fuel, EVs have cheaper operational expenses.

According to Kelly Blue Book, an automotive research company, Tesla contributed to cutting down EV prices from the last year. Gas-powered cars had an average transaction price of US$48,334 in July, compared to EVs for US$53,469. 

What the White House has to say?

The White House fiercely opposed the Republican bill and stated that President Joe Biden would veto it if it reached his desk.

The White House

According to the White House, the measure would “catastrophically impair EPA’s ability to issue automotive regulations that protect public health, save consumers money, strengthen American energy security, and protect American investments in future vehicle technologies.”

EPA’s proposed criteria for passenger cars and light trucks are performance-based, allowing vehicle makers to select the combination of technologies most suited to their consumers, said the White House. 

More than 100 EV models, as well as hybrid and gas-powered choices, are now available in the United States, according to the White House, “giving Americans unprecedented flexibility in where and how they choose to fuel.” 

It further noted that the EPA plan may save Americans thousands of dollars over the life of a car by expediting the adoption of technology that decreases fuel and maintenance expenses as well as emissions.

The GOP bill “would undermine all of these benefits, harming American consumers, companies and workers,” the White House said.

Republicans said that the EPA regulation would limit automobile buyers’ options, “shipping our auto-future and jobs to China.”

Democrat New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone’s comment

The senior Democrat on the energy panel, New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone, claimed the GOP measure would hinder innovation and create uncertainty for American automakers. According to Pallone, the measure contains “vague language” that might bar the EPA from ever completing vehicle rules for any sort of motor vehicle.

New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone

Instead of collaborating with Democrats on legislation to cut consumer costs or safeguard public health, Pallone remarked during floor discussion that “the Republican majority is, once again, bringing an anti-clean vehicle bill to the floor as part of their polluters over people agenda.”

“This bill would simply prevent the EPA from doing its job,” Pallone said, accusing House Republicans of “trying to legislate away years of innovation in clean transportation.”

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