U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday also will tour the North American International Auto Show, held in downtown Detroit for the first time in more than three years after the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the annual gathering.
Biden’s visit is part of a nationwide tour of leading administration officials promoting three major pieces of legislation that will boost clean energy infrastructure and research, including pouring billions into accelerating EV adoption, as Democrats head into the midterm elections this November.
The infrastructure law that passed last year appropriated $550 billion for highways, bridges, transit, broadband, and other infrastructure investments, including EV chargers.
The CHIPs and Science Act designated $52 billion for domestic semiconductor chip production, a crucial component for electric vehicles that has been in short supply since the pandemic began.
The “Inflation Reduction Act” passed just last month included expanded tax credits and grants for EV manufacturing and revamped a tax credit for EV buyers, though industry advocates say many vehicles won’t qualify for the expanded credits for a few years due to stringent domestic content requirements.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also touted the legislation on Thursday at the Ford Motor Co. Rouge Electric Vehicle Center. Biden is also scheduled to attend a Democratic National Committee reception in Detroit Wednesday afternoon before returning to Washington.
The officials aim to illustrate how the investments have bolstered the economy as it emerges from the pandemic, hoping to ease voters’ concerns as the nation heads into a competitive midterm election cycle.
Democrats are facing voters who are experiencing a mixed economic outlook: Gas prices have been easing for weeks, but inflation remains high. The consumer price index, which tracks price changes in a wide variety of goods and services, increased 0.1% in August and 8.3% over the last year, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data reported Tuesday.
The Federal Reserve is expected to continue to raise interest rates to bring inflation under control, but that has raised fears of a recession as regulators throw cold water on an overheating economy.
Democrats have argued that infrastructure and clean energy investments will create jobs in the long run and improve national security by bringing supply chains closer to home. Republicans have raised concerns that the spending bills will further increase inflationary pressures.