Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a new interview that the Biden administration’s proposed “Build Back Better” legislation contains financial incentives for people to purchase electric cars, adding that people who buy them would “never have to worry about gas prices again.”
Speaking about the recently-passed Infrastructure and Jobs Act, aka the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, on MSNBC’s “The Sunday Show” with host Jonathan Capehart, Buttigieg was asked whether there were provisions in the House-passed “Build Back Better” legislation that interested him as Transportation Secretary. “Absolutely,” Buttigieg responded, noting that while most of the physical infrastructure was passed in the infrastructure law, there were still provisions he supported in the Build Back Better Act.
He pointed specifically to a provision that would give financial incentives to individuals and families who purchased an electric vehicle, or EV. The bill would give families considering buying an electric car “up to a $12,500 discount, in effect,” Buttigieg said, adding that “once they own that vehicle, [they] will never have to worry about gas prices again.”
“The people who stand to benefit most from owning an EV,” Buttigieg continued, “are often rural residents who have the longest distances to drive, they burn the most gas, and underserved urban residents in areas where there are higher gas prices and lower income. They would gain the most by having that vehicle. These are the very residents who have not always been connected to electric vehicles that are viewed as kind of a luxury item.”
“If we can make the electric vehicle less expensive for everybody, more people can take advantage, and we’ll be building and selling more American-made EVs, which means in time they’ll become less expensive to make and to buy for everybody,” Buttigieg concluded, adding that the provision, if passed, would be just one more piece of “great news,” on top of the already-passed infrastructure bill.
Buttigieg’s Transportation Department came under scrutiny Sunday for a meme posted by its official Twitter account which apparently lobbied for the Build Back Better Act, potentially violating a law banning federal agencies or employees from lobbying on behalf of pending legislation.
— TransportationGov (@USDOT) November 26, 2021
Buttigieg’s comments also come on the heels of the Biden administration’s decision to release about 50 million barrels of petroleum from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve in an effort to lower the soaring price of gasoline, which currently sits at $3.39 per gallon, according to AAA. The move, which would only account for about 2.5 days’ worth of American gasoline consumption, was almost immediately slammed as “symbolic” and a “policy Band-Aid,” with critics like West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin calling for the Biden administration to “responsibly increase energy production here at home,” including restoring the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the U.S.
Despite the controversies over gas prices, memes, and his months-long paternity leave in the midst of the supply chain crisis, Buttigieg enjoys a higher name recognition and approval rating than many members of the Biden Cabinet, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll released Friday. However, that notoriety may be superficial, as it is only among Cabinet members, many of whom have far lower approval ratings.