The House voted Wednesday evening in favor of legislation striking down federal regulations targeting gas-powered vehicles which, according to the White House, are designed to “accelerate the transition to electric vehicles.”
In a 221-197 vote, the House approved the Choice in Automobile Retail Sales (CARS) Act with 216 Republicans and five Democrats voting in favor. A group of more than a dozen Republican lawmakers, led by Reps. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., and Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., introduced the legislation in July in response to the Biden administration’s tailpipe emissions regulations unveiled months earlier.
“The passage of the CARS Act is a massive victory for every consumer and the entire American auto industry,” Walberg told Fox News Digital. “Biden’s mandate has always been unrealistic, and a textbook study on how central planning and Bidenomics simply do not work. Mandating EVs has never been a responsible or affordable solution.”
“Americans should always have the option to buy whatever car suits them the best and the House has taken a massive step toward ensuring that opportunity still exists,” he added.
The CARS Act would particularly block regulations proposed in April by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) which would significantly increase tailpipe emissions standards for gas-powered cars. The bill would also prohibit any rule mandating the use of a specific technology or regulations that limit the availability of new vehicles based on engine type.
If the EPA rule is finalized, the White House projected that a staggering 67% of new sedan, crossover, SUV and light truck, and up to 50% of bus and garbage truck purchases could be electric by 2032. While the proposal isn’t technically a mandate, the the Biden administration boasted it would be a key part of its efforts to push greater EV adoption.
“Auto Innovators does not believe [the proposed standards] can be met without substantially increasing the cost of vehicles, reducing consumer choice, and disadvantaging major portions of the United States population,” John Bozzella, the CEO of the large auto industry group Alliance for Automotive Innovation which supports EVs, said after the EPA published its proposal in April.
“Taken together, the proposed GHG and criteria pollutant standards are so stringent as to set a de facto BEV mandate,” he added.
Opponents of EPA’s actions — which are part of the Biden administration’s broader effort to increase EV ownership in the U.S. and fight global warming by curbing carbon emissions produced by the transportation sector — have argued the new standards would ultimately harm consumers through higher costs and by forcing them to buy certain vehicles.
They have also argued that a large EV push will benefit Chinese industry which currently dominates global EV battery supply chains.
“Voting for the CARS Act and taking a stand against EPA’s de facto ban on most new gasoline, diesel, flex fuel and hybrid vehicles should not be a partisan issue for members of the House,” American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Vice President of Government Relations Aaron Ringel told Fox News Digital prior to the vote Wednesday.
“Banning vehicle and fuel technologies based on just one category of emissions is unlawful, illogical and bad for consumers, families and our national security,” Ringel said. “It would trade our hard-earned energy security for dependence on China.”
He noted, under the CARS Act, the EPA would maintain its authority to issue technology-neutral vehicle emission standards, but that those standards could not be manipulated to “force vehicle electrification.”
Ahead of the vote Wednesday, though, Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee circulated a memo stating that aggressive emissions standards are vital to reduce pollution and reduce premature deaths.
“Republicans are employing scare tactics to deliberately mislead the American people about EVs in order to prop up Big Oil corporations,” the memo stated. “The reality is that EVs are already popular, cheaper to own, and ongoing technological advancements are translating to better options for consumers every year.”
Following the vote Wednesday, the CARS Act now moves to the Senate where it has already received bipartisan support. However, the White House said in a statement Monday that President Biden would veto the CARS Act if it is passed.