Biden Vetoes Republican Measure Blocking EV Chargers Plan

(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden vetoed a congressional resolution that sought to block a partial waiver to Buy-American requirements on his plan to spend $7.5 billion on electric vehicle chargers, saying lawmakers would inadvertently make it easier to outsource production to countries like China.

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The measure, drafted by Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, was intended to ensure taxpayer money used to build electric charging stations would go toward American products and materials. But Biden said he had to veto the legislation because it would actually undercut the goal of increasing domestic production.

“It would not only thwart the collective goal of the Congress and the administration to establish a domestic EV charger manufacturing industry, but it would also delay the significant progress being made by my administration and the states in establishing the EV charging network,” Biden said in his veto message.

Administration officials, who discussed the veto on the condition of anonymity, said that if lawmakers succeeded in striking down their rule, production of electric chargers would instead be governed by decades-old regulations that would impose fewer domestic manufacturing requirements.

The congressional measure, they said, would remove requirements that charger manufacturers use domestically produced iron and steel for their housing. It would also undercut the administration’s plans to gradually implement more domestic manufacturing requirements over the life of the program, officials said.

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Rubio has dismissed the administration’s interpretation, saying he believed other Made in America regulations would come into play. And he won over some moderate Senate Democrats — including West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, who voted against Biden on the measure. The resolution passed under the Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers to overturn administration rules.

The president’s veto came just over an hour after he received the endorsement of the United Auto Workers, whose members have pressed him to ensure that domestic jobs remain secure as the administration subsidizes the transition to electric vehicles. Other top unions – including the AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers, and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers – had opposed the congressional resolution.

Lawmakers will have an opportunity to override Biden’s veto, but there does not appear to be enough support in either the Senate or House of Representatives for such an effort.

(Updates throughout with Biden veto message.)

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