US Senate passes $1 trillion infrastructure spending bill flush with pork and with billions for EV charging networks and grants

The Senate yesterday, Tuesday, 10 Aug, passed a huge $1 trillion infrastructure bill that would establish the first nationwide EV charging network.

The bill includes $7.5 billion to install charging stations along the nation’s highways and $7.5 billion for zero-emission buses.

The passage was seen as a bipartisan win for President Joe Biden, with 19 Republican senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, voting to approve it in a final vote tally of 69 to 30. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives, where it may face some challenges as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and progressive Democrats have said they will not pass the bill until the Senate passes a separate $3.5 trillion social policy bill this fall. 

Biden lobbied around the country for the infrastructure bill and has highlighted its investments in electric vehicles. Last week, he brought executives from Ford, General Motors and Stellantis to the White House to sign an executive order that set a target that half of all cars sold in the U.S. be electric by 2030. The automakers agreed to a pact that 40% to 50% of their new car sales will be low carbon by that time on the condition that Congress passes the infrastructure bill. 

Ford released a statement Tuesday that said: “Ford applauds this bipartisan step to make long overdue investments in our nation’s infrastructure and accelerate the transition to a zero emissions transportation future. We’re committed to leading the electric vehicle revolution and doing our part by investing tens of billions of dollars in EVs, including with fully electric versions of our most iconic and popular vehicles”

There could be more money for electric vehicles as negotiations continue. 

Reuters reported Monday that 28 House Democrats want to invest $85 billion in EV charging infrastructure rather than the proposed $7.5 billion. 

The lawmakers, including House Transportation Chairman Peter DeFazio, said “a rapid and extensive build-out of electric vehicle charging infrastructure supported by the federal government is crucial if consumers are to adopt zero emission vehicles at the scale and pace needed to stave off climate catastrophe.”

When he introduced the bill, Biden called for a total EV investment of $174 billion with $15 billion for 500,000 EV charging stations. Lots of pork for construction, chargers, high voltage cables and grid connect.