Surprise, surprise: Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin threw cold water on yet another aspect of his party’s approach to climate policy. While the Biden administration has proposed expanding the popular electric vehicle tax credit, Manchin called the idea “ludicrous” during a Senate budget hearing on Thursday.
Manchin’s colleagues are angling to resurrect certain provisions in the catatonic-if-not-entirely-dead Build Back Better bill, including one to increase the existing $7,500 credit for electric vehicle purchases to as much as $12,500. But Manchin, who also basically killed the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better plan, isn't having it.
Manchin cited both existing waiting lists for EVs — especially in light of tangled supply chains for the vehicles — and high fuel prices as rationale for his resistance. He suggested that lawmakers instead direct more funding toward developing hydrogen resources to decarbonize the transportation sector (a complicated and potentially fraught proposition). In February, Manchin joined three Republicans to launch a working group to develop a hydrogen hub in West Virginia, which would allow for the continued use of fossil fuels and would be a major win for natural gas and coal producers in Manchin's state. The proposal has already passed the House, but getting Manchin on board will likely be necessary to get it through the Senate as well. Manchin has thrown a wrench in Democratic policy plans in the past, including the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better spending plan, which included climate provisions that would have impacted clean energy deployment and carbon removal research.
Manchin, who would appear not to care at all about supporting Democratic climate policies, recently convened a bipartisan meeting of senators to discuss energy security and climate change and gauge where there may be room for consensus. The senator told POLITICO that the group’s first meeting went smoothly, but they are “just starting.” But the perception that Manchin is dragging his feet has caused frustration among Democrats, who are skeptical an energy tax package could get support from 10 Republicans, and have their eye on the clock as the midterms quickly approach.
"This is our last, best chance to take action, and whether we do or not rests entirely in Manchin's hands," a senior Democratic aide said to CNN.