The automotive industry has long been the backbone of the American manufacturing economy, employing more than 900,000 workers in the United States. And one job in an auto assembly plant creates over seven more jobs in the economy. We cannot afford to lose this workforce; we need these jobs here to stay.
But over the last couple of years, we’ve seen our auto manufacturing industry in America slow to a crawl, and in many places, a halt due to the semiconductor chip shortage. General Motors is parking a thousand unfinished vehicles per day in a lot built to hold finished cars. Ford has curtailed production at plants throughout Michigan. But right now, the American automotive industry cannot afford to stand still.
That’s why Democrats enacted the CHIPS and Science Act and have crafted the Inflation Reduction Act, which will make meaningful investments in the auto industry — not just for success in the immediate future, but by setting the foundation for long-term growth, innovation and sustainability while addressing the climate crisis.
The automotive industry has demonstrated its commitment to shifting to electric vehicles, but Congress must enact policies to ensure our nation is ready to make the change and be a global leader. That’s why the Inflation Reduction Act includes several critical priorities to help facilitate that transition. From domestic supply chains, to manufacturing, to consumer incentives, the policies in this bill pave the way for a transformational shift to electrification on all fronts.
By extending the advanced energy project credit and allocating an additional $3 billion to the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program for the Secretary of Energy to make direct loans to establish and expand U.S. facilities that produce vehicles or components with low or zero greenhouse gas emissions, we will restore Americans jobs that have been shipped overseas.
Along with another $2 billion in Domestic Manufacturing Conversion Grants and $500 million through September 2024 for additional incentives to spur onshoring for critical minerals, manufacturers will no longer be incentivized to take their investments to our foreign competitors like China, who have been increasingly cornering this market for too long. This legislation will reduce our dependency on foreign manufacturing, strengthening our own economic and national security in the future.
Both the expanding and modernizing of these programs have been core legislative priorities of mine for many years.
A series of consumer tax credits, including a clean vehicle credit, previously owned vehicle credit and an extension of the federal income tax credit on alternative fuel vehicle refueling property for another 10 years, would bring down the cost of electric vehicles, making them affordable and accessible to more Americans.
While this element may pose some challenges for the industry in the short-term, it will strengthen the long-term trajectory of the automotive industry, domestic supply chains and American manufacturing.
Over the last year, Democrats have taken additional action to shore up our domestic manufacturing and invest in our transition to electric vehicles.
The CHIPS and Science Act, which President Joe Biden just signed into law, will jumpstart American auto manufacturing which had been stalled during the national semiconductor chip shortage and reduce our dependence on foreign supply chains.
And the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which we passed last winter, included $5 billion to install publicly accessible electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the country.
The auto industry is inextricably linked with our fight against climate change. The Inflation Reduction Act takes key steps to help us reach our target of reducing carbon emissions by 40% by the end of the decade, including legislation I worked on to create a national Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator, also known as the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund — based on the successful Green Bank example in Michigan — that will help deploy greater EV charging stations and further reduce emissions.
The autos and clean vehicle technology of the future must be developed and manufactured in America, and I am committed to continuing to support the industry in this cutting-edge transition. The Inflation Reduction Act is just the first step in transforming how we think about, manufacture and drive American vehicles.
It’s time for America to reclaim our role as a global leader in manufacturing, innovation, and the fight against climate change, and these policies are a significant step toward a sustainable, successful and transformative American electric vehicle economy.
Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, is a U.S. House representative serving Michigan’s 12th congressional district.
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