- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
The Biden administration's infrastructure and jobs plan includes major investments in clean energy and efforts to fight climate change — including more than $170 billion to boost the nation's electric vehicle market. Rep. Dan Kildee (D., Mich.) argues the plan will strengthen the U.S. economy and boost auto manufacturing in Michigan.
"This is not just good climate policy. In this case, it positions us to own our own manufacturing future," said Kildee in an interview with Yahoo Finance Live.
"A big concern that we've had in the automotive world is that the transition to electrification could take place without the U.S. being a principal manufacturer. Half of electric vehicles are not produced here — they're produced in China," said Kildee. "If we don't act now, to try to get to scale and to get those unit prices down by getting to scale, someone else will fill that void," he added.
President Biden wants to put 500,000 EV chargers across the country by 2030. His plan also calls for rebates and tax incentives to encourage people to buy American-made electric vehicles — and it includes money to help U.S. manufacturers retool factories and strengthen domestic supply chains.
"I think this is where the automakers, labor unions, consumers and environmentalists are all on the same page: structure the credit so that we can bring those vehicle prices down to a level where middle-income earners can purchase an electric vehicle using the incentives that we put in place," said Kildee. "It's good for consumers, good for workers."
Avoiding 'the worst-case scenario' for American workers
The administration wants $16 billion to go toward plugging oil and gas wells and cleaning abandoned mines, saying this program will help provide fossil fuel workers with jobs. It also has billions of dollars for workforce development and training.
Some Republicans have criticized the Biden administration and climate advocates for not doing enough to help workers in fossil-fuel industries who could suffer job losses and pay cuts as the nation moves toward clean energy. Labor leaders have also expressed concern that new jobs won't pay as much as jobs in the fossil fuel industries.
"The reason we were able to build the middle class around manufacturing is because we had labor unions that were able to negotiate for fair wages. So we need to strengthen that as we move to this new sector of the economy," said Kildee.
"If we don't aggressively move to more sustainable sources of energy, not only will we lose those old-economy jobs, but we won't own the new ones — and that's the worst scenario for American workers," he added.
Flint water crisis is a 'warning to the rest of the country'
Biden's infrastructure plan calls for more than $100 billion to improve water infrastructure — including $45 billion to replace the nation's lead pipes and services lines. Kildee — whose district includes Flint, Mich. — said the Flint water crisis should serve as a warning to the rest of the country. Kildee told Yahoo Finance the cost of lawsuits and fixing the water problems will ultimately add up to more than $1 billion.
"The cost of failure is so much greater than the price of doing it right," said Kildee. "Forty-five billion dollars in this plan to replace lead service lines across the country will save not only lead exposure and the impact that that has on the brains of developing children, but will save us an enormous financial expense downstream. So this is a good example of why infrastructure investment does pay us back 10-fold."
In order to pass a bill without any Republican support, Democratic lawmakers may attempt to use the reconciliation process again. Typically the Senate can use the process to pass one bill per fiscal year, but Democrats say a ruling from the Senate Parliamentarian may allow them to use the process to pass legislation with only 51 votes multiple times.
"It creates more certainty that we're going to be able to deliver something to the president's desk, but I don't think it should take away the obligation that we have to try to work this through in a bipartisan fashion. Policy is always better when it's bipartisan," said Kildee.
Jessica Smith is chief political correspondent for Yahoo Finance, based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.