Good afternoon from Capitol Hill.
The House is in session this week and then will recess for the next week. The Senate is out of session this week, but will return next week and remain in session for four weeks straight.
The House is in serious debt-limit negotiations with the White House and Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX) circulated a memo to his colleagues outlining the importance of holding the line in negotiations. A key part of the memo reads, “While House Republicans are fighting for hard-working American families facing a woke, weaponized government at odds with our way of life, President Biden and Democrats have been dragging their feet for weeks to fight for rich liberal elitists who want more spending, more government, more corporate subsidies, and less freedom.”
Also this week, a coalition of 151 Republican Members of Congress wrote a letter to the Biden administration on Monday condemning the EPA’s recent proposed emissions standards, which aim to drastically increase the production and sale of electric vehicles (EVs) by 2032. The coalition was led by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and joined by Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Whip Tom Emmer, Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, and a number of committee chairmen. The lawmakers wrote, “We write to express deep concerns with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed standards for light- and medium-duty vehicles and heavy-duty trucks… The proposals are the latest effort by the Biden administration to commandeer America’s transportation sector and force its complete vehicle electrification under the guise of mitigating climate change.”
The proposal, put forward by the EPA on April 12th, 2023, endorses a number of sweeping measures, which if implemented, could artificially shift the market share of EVs to 67% by 2032 in order for carmakers to be in compliance. As of 2023, electric vehicle sales make up only 4.5% of market share in the auto industry. The stringent standards would impact car model years 2027 through 2032, targeting light- and medium-duty vehicles, and heavy-duty trucks, with specific tailgate emissions. The White House has said that the regulations would achieve carbon emissions reductions of nearly 10 billion tons by 2055, additionally projecting that oil imports could be reduced by 20 billion barrels.
Potential impact on low-income households was one of the highest concerns. McMorris Rodgers and other Members wrote, “Pricing is especially important, because access to a car is tied to improved economic outcomes for low-income households… Americans should not be forced into paying an excessive amount for a car they do not want and cannot afford.” Additionally, concerns about driving range in relation to rural communities were raised by the lawmakers, who argued that, “Forcing rural America into a largely EV future is condemning these communities into isolation.” The Department of Energy reported in 2021 that the average range of an electric vehicle was around 234 miles, while gasoline vehicles averaged a 403-mile range.
The rapid shift to an EV-dominated car industry would strengthen dependence on China, which produces 75% of all lithium-ion batteries. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated that more than 50% of lithium, cobalt, and graphite processing and refining capacity is located in China—these three minerals are critical to the production of EV batteries. The data is unclear whether the capacity to produce EV batteries to meet the proposed new level even exists.
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One More Thing…