Biden praises Tlaib, previews Ford F-150 Lightning and touts jobs plan in Dearborn

By: - May 18, 2021 4:48 pm

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on his American Jobs Plan and the Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck at the Ford Motor Co. Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, where the truck will be produced, on Tuesday, May 18. (Andrew Roth | Michigan Advance)

President Joe Biden praised U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) for her passion relating to Palestine during a stop in Dearborn on Tuesday.

“I want to say to you that I admire your intellect, I admire your passion and I admire your concern for so many other people,” Biden told Tlaib. “And from my heart, I pray that your grandma and family are well, and I promise I’m going to do everything to see that they are, on the West Bank.”

Tlaib, the only Palestinian-American member of Congress, has been critical of Biden’s stance on Israel and met with the president at the airport, per a White House pool report.

At least three protests were planned to coincide with Biden’s visit to a part of Dearborn that’s estimated to be more than 90% Arab American Muslim, the Detroit Free Press reported.

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib attends President Joe Biden’s remarks on his American Jobs Plan and the Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck at the Ford Motor Co. Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, where the truck will be produced, on Tuesday, May 18. (Andrew Roth | Michigan Advance)

Biden was in Dearborn to tour the Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, where the company will produce an electric version of their F-150 pickup truck.

While the F-150 Lightning is expected to be officially unveiled tomorrow, Biden got a preview of the vehicle during his tour – and took it for a test drive on a track.

While test driving the truck, Biden pulled up to the traveling press pool, remarking, “This sucker’s quick.”

The journalists on the track asked Biden if they could ask him a question about Israel.

“No, you can’t. Not unless you get in front of the car as I step on it. I’m only teasing,” Biden said before flooring it, per the pool.

Biden used the stop to tout his American Jobs Plan, which includes about $174 billion for the production and adoption of electric vehicles, and took a dig at former President Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan.

“They announced infrastructure week, and they announced it and announced it and announced it – every week for four years, and didn’t do a damn thing!” Biden said. “Didn’t get the job done. Folks, the rest of the world is moving fast. They’re moving ahead. They’re not waiting for the United States of America. Government, labor and industry working together have to step up, and we have a playbook that’ll work.”

The plan would include $15 billion to build 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations throughout the nation, $45 billion towards the adoption of electric school and transit buses, and unspecified amounts of funding to support transitioning federal vehicle fleets, like at the U.S. Postal Service, to electric.

Funding aimed at retooling factories that are currently dormant would also be included in the plan.

“The Rouge is one of the world’s great industrial centers,” Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Co., said. “There was a time where Ford executives thought this was a relic of a bygone era, and they wanted to close the entire Rouge site. But I decided, no, let’s turn the nation’s biggest brownfield site into the greenest plant in the country. Today, I’m proud that the Rouge has been transformed into a state of the art manufacturing site, and a model for sustainable and high-tech manufacturing.

Other aspects of the plan would incentivize building battery and semiconductor factories in the U.S., subsidizing research and development of new technologies, and expanding consumer incentives to purchase affordable electric vehicles.

Biden said China currently leads the world in supplying components related to the production of electric vehicles, something his plan hopes to change.

“Right now, China is leading in this race. It’s a fact,” Biden said. “We can’t let that be sustained. They think they’re going to win. Well, I’ve got news for them. They will not win this race. We won’t let them.”

The trip to Dearborn was Biden’s second visit to Michigan since taking office. He visited in February a Pfizer plant in Portage, where their COVID-19 vaccine is being produced. 


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Andrew Roth
Andrew Roth

Andrew Roth is a former reporting intern with the Michigan Advance. He has been covering Michigan policy and politics for three years across a number of publications and studies journalism at Michigan State University.