President Biden reiterated his desire for a bipartisan infrastructure solution yesterday. Then he got behind the wheel of an electric vehicle, which could be a deal-breaker for Republicans.
“This sucker’s quick,” Biden said as he sped past Ford Motor Co.’s test facility, rolling down his window and offering his opinion on the new F-150 Lightning, the electric version of the country’s most popular vehicle.
Then he slammed it down.
The flourish provided a rare glimpse into political talks that it had previously held behind closed doors.
After balking at Biden’s $2.2 trillion plan, Republicans are crafting a revamped, more specific infrastructure proposal this week. Initially, Republican lawmakers retaliated with a $570 billion plan that excluded climate investments. Democrats claim that during last week’s bipartisan negotiations in the Oval Office, GOP leaders objected directly to Biden’s pitch for electric vehicles.
The White House now appears to be joining the fight.
Biden spent the day touring Ford’s Dearborn, Mich., facility, where union members assemble the F-150 Lightning. Following that, he stated that quickly building up EV manufacturing and ownership is critical for the future of American labour, if not the environment.
“We’ve arrived at a critical juncture in American history,” Biden remarked. “How we handle the next four to ten years will define where we will be in 30, 40, and 50 years. It’s one of those historical times in the United States.”
Biden spent the majority of his remarks discussing the economic potential of electric vehicles before mentioning climate change briefly at the end.
“If we act to rescue the planet, we will be able to create millions of good-paying jobs, tremendous economic development, and the ability to increase the standard of living for people not just here, but throughout the world,” he said. “It will build the future right here in America in the competition for the twenty-first century.”
While Biden talked about electric vehicles, his senior officials met with Republicans on Capitol Hill to discuss infrastructure. Steve Ricchetti, counsellor to the president, Gina Raimondo, Pete Buttigieg, and Louisa Terrell, director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, were among the group members.
The split-screen suggested Biden’s priorities.
On the way to Biden’s speech, White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated, “Certainly the president’s travel to Michigan will, of course, be on the minds of our officials from our end.”
White House officials have previously stated that Biden has only two infrastructure deal breakers: “doing nothing” and raising taxes on those earning less than $400,000.
EVs seemed to be gaining in popularity at the moment. According to Psaki, Biden’s proposal to electrify transportation is “one of the core components” of his infrastructure plan. It’s also one of the biggest, with a market capitalization of $174 billion.
And the White House is focusing on it more and more. Shortly after Vice President Kamala Harris saw an electric school bus plant, Biden paid a virtual visit to another EV firm, Proterra. Biden’s deputy national climate adviser, Ali Zaidi, accompanied the president on his Michigan tour yesterday.
These visits showed how far climate politics had progressed since the Obama administration when Republicans framed climate policy as anti-business. Now it’s Democrats who are bragging about business America’s backing for their climate initiatives.
Bill Ford, the company’s executive chairman, said yesterday in his introduction to Biden’s speech, “As you work toward a future that is more sustainable and built in America, Ford is right there with you.” He even went into detail about the components of Biden’s infrastructure proposal.
“We applaud your dedication to rebuilding America’s roads and bridges, constructing an electric vehicle charging network, and investing in the kind of clean energy production that we’re pioneering right here at Ford.”
Even if the two parties stay far apart on EVs, Biden isn’t ready to advise Republicans to take the road.
“We believe we can reach a bipartisan infrastructure agreement. And we anticipate to hear more details about their proposal today,” Biden said, adding that he expects to see it today.
“But there’s one thing we’ve made clear: we’ll make concessions, but doing nothing is not an option. It is not an option to do nothing. I’ll repeat it: the world isn’t waiting.”
Even as Biden seeks a compromise with Republicans, some Democrats in Congress are pressuring the White House to increase infrastructure spending. That could make any attempt to downsize the packaging more difficult.
According to a memo acquired by ABC News, “this approach invests half of the annual resources originally suggested by President Biden on climate action alone.”
Nearly 60 prominent progressives, moderates, and high-profile legislators, including Democratic Reps. Paul Tonko and Carolyn Maloney of New York, Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, Ral Grijalva of Arizona, Karen Bass of California, and Chellie Pingree of Maine, are among the signatories.
“While bipartisan support is appreciated,” they said, “the pursuit of Republican votes must be at the expense of reducing the scope of public investments.”