After signing his $1 trillion infrastructure investment bill into law earlier this week, President Joe Biden visited General Motors’ electric vehicle plant Factory Zero on the Detroit and Hamtramck border Wednesday to highlight that accomplishment and drum up support for his social agenda.
Biden said the infrastructure legislation is delivering real results — like the $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations across the country and other money to help transition the country away from fossil fuels.
“We risked losing our edge as a nation. And China and the rest of the world are catching up. Well we’re about to turn that around in a big, big way.” —President Joe Biden
Near a banner reading “bipartisan infrastructure deal,” Biden told an invitation-only crowd the infrastructure plan will rebuild the nation’s backbone, create jobs and fight climate change.
Biden says it’s an investment the U.S. has ignored for far too long, underscoring his intentions of investing in electric vehicle infrastructure — from both a charging station and manufacturing standpoint — during his October trip to Howell. Biden framed the U.S. as being in direct competition with China in that area.
“We risked losing our edge as a nation. And China and the rest of the world are catching up. Well we’re about to turn that around in a big, big way,” he said.
Biden said he was impressed by the electric vehicles the Big Three automakers are putting on the market. He called them “masterpieces of modern manufacturing” and “proof that American has what it takes to win the competition of the 21st century.”
The GM plant Biden visited was slated to be closed in 2018 as the automaker tried to shed excess factory capacity to build sedans as buyers shifted toward SUVs and trucks. But the plant, which built cars with internal combustion engines since it opened in 1985, was rescued a year later and designated Factory Zero to build zero-emissions electric vehicles.
Currently, the 4.1 million-square-foot plant is making pre-production versions of the electric GMC Hummer pickup truck.
Biden says the $7.5 million investment in the EV network it will help spur a nationwide shift toward electric vehicles and put union members to work.
“We’re gonna put IBEW members and other union members to work installing a national network of charging stations along our road and highways in our community, over 500,000,” he said.
Republicans, even some of those who voted in favor of the infrastructure package, are criticizing Biden for being preoccupied with electric vehicle technology at a time when Americans are dealing with pain at the gas pump driven by a spike in gasoline and natural gas prices.
Building Support for Build Back Better
Biden also made a pitch for his massive social spending bill, a measure that has yet to win sufficient support not just from Republicans but also from the president’s fellow Democrats to move forward.
Biden’s Build Back Better legislation further invests in EVs in the form of incentives like a $7,500 tax break to encourage consumers to purchase U.S.-built electric vehicles. It calls for other consumer tax credits including free preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds and child tax credits.
The administration claims the social programs would be paid for by raising taxes on people making more than $400,000 a year.
But Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — and nearly all Senate Republicans — oppose part of those credits because they require that union workers build the electric vehicles or batteries.
The proposed legislation takes special aim on boosting American-built EVs. Analysts say popular electric vehicle options like the Ford Mustang Mach-E, which is built in Mexico, could be left without consumer incentives.
Biden says the recovery amid the coronavirus pandemic is doing better than expected, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“When I look back the last four months, we actually created 710,000 more jobs in the country … on top of the 5.6 million we already had created,” he says.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.