The U.S. Senate voted 50-48 to overturn President Joe Biden’s decision to waive some “Buy America” requirements for government-funded electric vehicle charging stations. However, the White House stated that Biden would veto the measure. The White House argued that the Republican bill would harm domestic manufacturing and American jobs by eliminating the domestic manufacturing requirement for government-funded EV chargers. Senate Democrats Sherrod Brown, Joe Manchin, Jon Tester, and independent Kyrsten Sinema joined Republicans in voting against the regulation. In February, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) agreed to waive some requirements until July 2024 to enable immediate EV charger acquisition and installation. Congress has allocated $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations, which is crucial to the Biden administration’s plans to increase electric vehicle sales. The White House also stated that the bill to rescind the waiver would overturn the FHWA decision to extend Buy America rules to EV chargers. This means that EV chargers would not be subject to any Buy America requirements. Republican Senator Marco Rubio challenged the White House’s argument, suggesting that the administration could rescind the 1983 decision separately. Rubio expressed concerns that the waiver would allow government funds to go to Chinese companies for building electric vehicle charging stations. Under the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law, infrastructure projects like EV chargers must obtain at least 55% of construction materials from domestic sources and U.S. manufacturers. However, the 55% requirement does not come into effect until July 2024, and EV chargers produced by then can still receive funding if installation begins by October 2024. EV chargers require iron and steel for crucial parts, and the global demand for chargers is straining the supply chain, making it challenging to meet made-in-America standards and expedite construction.
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