The United States is facing a complex political landscape, with protectionist policies that lead to higher consumer prices being supported by both Republicans and Democrats.
President Joe Biden has pledged to make at least half of all automobiles sold in the country electric vehicles (E.Vs) by 2030. The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocated $7.5 billion to build a nationwide network of EV chargers, with the government aiming to have 500,000 charging stations by 2030.
However, in February, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) exempted chargers made by July 1, 2024, whose final assembly happens in the US, and for whose installation has commenced by October 1, 2024, from the “Buy American” mandate. This delay allowed EV charger purchasing and installation to begin quickly. Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio filed Senate Joint Resolution 38, which declared that Congress disapproves of the waiver and that such rule shall have no force or effect.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio argued that waiving the Buy America rules for EV chargers would not assist American taxpayers or workers but it would also help enemies like China take over the electrical grid.
Some Democrats blamed Rubio for subsidizing Chinese-made items, while others blamed him for limiting the nation’s capacity to become less reliant on Chinese production of EV chargers.
The Biden administration released a new regulation that restores Buy America safeguards for EV chargers, guaranteeing that the national network of EV chargers is Made in America. However, the Biden administration later rolled back Buy American regulations when it became apparent that they would hurt manufacturing. The Republican members of the Senate attacked the administration for abandoning its principles and reverting to a policy from the 1970s.
Buy American policies are a form of economic protectionism that hurts consumers by raising the price of goods they want to buy. The Biden administration’s relaxation of the Buy American criterion for EV chargers shows that it recognizes this.