The House passed legislation Wednesday that would block a proposed Biden administration rule to phase out the sales of new gas-powered cars to fight climate change.
The GOP-controlled chamber voted 221-197. While the bill will not advance in the Democratic-led Senate, its passage marked the latest example of some moderate Democrats joining Republicans to combat President Biden’s green energy policies.
“Not only does this mandate display breathtaking government overreach into the auto industry, it’s also unaffordable, unattainable and unrealistic for American consumers,” said Rep. Tim Walberg, Michigan Republican and author of the bill dubbed the CARS Act.
Five Democrats broke rank to vote in favor of the bill and against Mr. Biden, all of whom are up for reelection in competitive districts: Henry Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, Jared Golden of Maine, Mary Peltola of Alaska and Don Davis of North Carolina.
The Environmental Protection Agency is weighing new tailpipe emissions rules that would require electric vehicles to account for as much as 67% of automakers’ new-vehicle sales by 2032. The regulation, if finalized, would start in 2027.
Republicans counter that requiring such a rapid transition away from gas-powered vehicles would exacerbate U.S. dependency on China for critical minerals used in EV batteries and further raise transportation costs.
“It’s time to pump the brakes on President Biden‘s de facto EV mandate, which will send our auto future and jobs to China,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Washington Republican. “This is not the future Americans want or deserve.”
Energy and auto groups lauded the bill’s passage.
“If Joe Biden believes EVs are so wonderful, he shouldn’t have to force us to buy them by executive fiat,” said Power The Future Founder and Executive Director Daniel Turner. “Better yet, Biden can actually pledge to use EVs exclusively and end his eco-hypocrisy.”
Thomas Pyle, president of American Energy Alliance and a founder of Save Our Cars Coalition, argued that using regulations — rather than Congress — “to pick winners and losers in Washington is an abuse of the law and will do little more than raise costs and reduce our choice in vehicles.”
Automakers and dealerships have warned the administration that the proposed timetable for phasing out gas cars is unrealistic because of several factors outside their control, such as the limited nationwide availability of EV chargers, access to critical minerals and consumers’ hesitancy to go green.
Still, blue states are forging ahead with bans of their own against gas-guzzlers.
New Jersey became at least the 11th state last month to outlaw the sales of new gas-powered cars by 2035.
Nearly 4,000 car dealerships signed an open letter to Mr. Biden last month urging him to delay his potential regulation.
“Already, electric vehicles are stacking up on our lots, which is our best indicator of customer demand in the marketplace,” said the group, known collectively as the EV Voice of the Customer. “Mr. President, no government agency, no think tank, and no polling firm knows more about the automobile customer than us.”