Republican infrastructure counteroffer slashes Biden's electric vehicle spending

  • The Senate Republican infrastructure counteroffer includes just $4 billion dedicated to electric vehicles, far below President Joe Biden's proposal.
  • Biden wants to spend $174 billion on initiatives like installing charging stations and providing tax incentives for EV buyers.
  • The White House had reduced its infrastructure price tag to $1.7 trillion as it negotiates with Republicans, but maintained its climate change policies.

Republican senators unveiled a counteroffer on infrastructure to President Joe Biden on Thursday thatwould make deep cuts to his proposed spending for electric vehicles, weakening a central component of the administration's broader plans to combat climate change.

The GOP plan includes just $4 billion for electric vehicle infrastructure, scaling back Biden's original proposal to spend $174 billion to boost the EV market and shift away from gas-powered cars in an effort to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions.

Many Republicans have argued that the infrastructure bill should only tackle traditional transportation issues, while Democrats have sought a more widespread package that addresses items like climate change and clean energy.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, in a statement Thursday, said the administration was concerned that the GOP proposal did not include substantial new funding to help the U.S. transition to a clean-energy economy.

The Biden administration's counteroffer to Republicans last week reduced the overall price tag of its package while maintaining climate change policies, which are part of the president's core agenda.

As part of his original plan, the president vowed to install at least half a million electric charging stations across the U.S. by 2030. He also proposed boosting domestic supply of EV materials and providing tax incentives for EV buyers as well as grant and incentive programs for charging infrastructure.

Electric cars only comprise about 2% of new auto sales in the U.S., but are seen as essential for combatting global warming and achieving Biden's plan to cut carbon emissions in half over the next decade and go carbon neutral by mid-century.

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The largest spending item in the GOP offer is $506 billion for roads, bridges and major infrastructure projects, up $91 billion from their offer last month. Other spending increases include $72 billion for water systems, $22 billion for ports and waterways and $65 billion for broadband.

The GOP counteroffer totals $928 billion over eight years, following the president's latest offer to Republicans of $1.7 trillion, which was $600 billion less than his original proposal.

Biden's proposal includes energy initiatives to combat climate change, including the creation of a "Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard," a mandate that would require some U.S. electricity to come from zero-carbon sources like wind and solar power.

Biden's plan aims to retrofit millions of homes to boost energy efficiency, with efforts focused on the low-income and minority communities, as well as funding for research and development projects on technologies like carbon capture and storage, hydrogen and offshore wind.

His proposal also seeks to replace all lead pipes in the U.S. and update water systems to ensure safer drinking water. EPA Administrator Michael Regan at a press conference in Chicago on Thursday said investing in water infrastructure is "one of the best decisions we can make as a nation."

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee advanced on Wednesday a $304 billion reauthorization transportation bill for highways, roads and bridges, legislation Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., called an "important first step" to upgrade infrastructure and mitigate climate change while creating jobs.

The White House said it hopes to see progress in bipartisan negotiations by Memorial Day.

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