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Is Biden plotting to 'reduce automobile usage' in America? Eleanor Holmes Norton thinks so

Democrats also "investing in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure," said D.C.'s non-voting member of Congress.

Updated: May 13, 2021 - 2:26pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

President Biden's infrastructure plan would "reduce automobile usage" to combat climate change, said D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton at a Capitol Hill news conference Wednesday following a White House meeting on infrastructure between the president and congressional leaders.

Norton, the District's non-voting member of Congress, thanked Biden for setting a goal to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

"Now that we have the House, the Senate and the presidency, c'mon, let's get it finally done," said Norton about passing an infrastructure bill that reflects Biden's American Jobs Plan.

"We're investing in not only to reduce automobile usage, but also we're investing in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, if you really want to reduce, really want to get at climate change," said Norton, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Republicans objected to some of the "electrification" portions of Biden's proposal in the White House meeting, but she did not elaborate.

Biden's plan includes a $174 billion investment to "win the EV market," according to the White House fact sheet about the proposal.

"It will give consumers point of sale rebates and tax incentives to buy American-made EVs, while ensuring that these vehicles are affordable for all families and manufactured by workers with good jobs," reads the fact sheet. "It will establish grant and incentive programs for state and local governments and the private sector to build a national network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030, while promoting strong labor, training, and installation standards."

The proposal would also spend the federal dollars on electric school buses and U.S. Postal Service vehicles.

The plan would "replace 50,000 diesel transit vehicles and electrify at least 20 percent of our yellow school bus fleet through a new Clean Buses for Kids Program at the Environmental Protection Agency, with support from the Department of Energy," reads the White House outline.

"These investments will set us on a path to 100 percent clean buses, while ensuring that the American workforce is trained to operate and maintain this 21st century infrastructure. Finally, it will utilize the vast tools of federal procurement to electrify the federal fleet, including the United States Postal Service." 

House Infrastructure and Transportation Chairman Peter DeFazio said that electric vehicles are the future, so the federal government should invest in "electrification." He cited General Motors' plan to sell electric vehicles exclusively by 2035. DeFazio declined to specify how Biden's $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan should be paid for, deferring questions to House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal.

"I write a bill," he said. "I do the policy, and then I hand the bill, which is a bill, to the Ways and Means Committee, and they figure out how to pay for it, so direct that question to Richie Neal." 

Pelosi said anyone making under $400,000 per year would not see a tax increase under Biden's plan to fund the infrastructure bill. 

"I think there has to be fairness in all of this," she said.

In addition to raising taxes on those making more than $400,000 annually, Biden wants to increase the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has said Republicans would not support relitigating the 2017 tax reform law, which lowered the corporate tax rate and made other changes to the tax code. 

Democratic Rep. Albio Sires of New Jersey said the issue of physical infrastructure should be bipartisan.

"When somebody gets on a bus to New York, they don't ask whether you're a Republican or Democrat," she said. "It's for the entire nation to work, so they can go to work, people can get good jobs and bring home the bacon."

Biden's American Jobs Plan has not been drafted into formal legislation yet.