Biden toasts new infrastructure law at GM electric vehicle plant opening in Detroit

By: - November 17, 2021 8:10 pm

President Joe Biden arrives in Air Force One at Denver International Airport for a visit to Colorado on September 14, 2021. | Kevin Mohatt for Colorado Newsline

President Joe Biden traveled to Detroit Wednesday to tout the new $1.2 trillion infrastructure package he signed into law on Monday while helping to celebrate the opening of General Motors new electric vehicle assembly plant. 

The Democrat was given a tour of the Factory ZERO Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center along with the chance to take an electric Hummer for a spin before giving remarks to about 300 GM employees and UAW members. 

Biden opened his remarks by stressing that the infrastructure package and the Build Back Better Act still being debated in Congress will “not add inflationary pressures.” Republicans, including Michigan Republican members of Congress, have claimed they’ll contribute to inflation and the nation’s debt. Biden said provisions raising corporate taxes will help pay for each package — which also will impact GM. 

He praised GM CEO Mary Barra for opening the plant. 

“Folks, when you see these projects starting in your home towns, I want you to feel the way I feel,” Biden said. “Pride in what we can do when we are together as the United States of America and it starts here in Detroit. In the auto industry, Detroit’s leading the world in electric vehicles.” 

Electric vehicles are displayed before a news conference with White House Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg about the American Jobs Plan and to highlight electric vehicles at Union Station near Capitol Hill on April 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Biden administration has proposed over $170 billion in spending to boost the production of zero-emission buses and cars and increase the number of EV charging stations. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Biden said his plans will accelerate production of electric vehicles, saying “we’re going to make sure that the jobs of the future end up here in Michigan, not halfway around the world.”

“For most of the 21st century we lead the world by [a] significant margin because we invested in our people, we invested in ourselves,” Biden said. “But something went wrong along the way. … We stopped. We risk losing our edge as a nation, and China and the rest of the world are catching up. Well, we’re about to turn that around in a big, big way.”

The infrastructure includes $7.5 billion to commence the installation of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the nation. More than $10 billion will also be allocated to help repair and strengthen Michigan’s roads and bridges, public transportation, broadband access and water infrastructure. 

The Build Back Better Act, another $1.75 trillion bill which is currently still in need of congressional approval, would provide $12,500 in tax credits for electric vehicles made domestically. There also will be a $4,500 tax credit for union-made electric vehicles. 

The two plans’ commitments to electric vehicle production are a part of Biden’s overarching agenda to lower the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030. 

The president’s trip to Detroit also comes nearly a month after he visited a union training facility in Howell where he again touted his domestic agenda.

The Detroit center is one of five GM plans to build for electric vehicle production. The factory is the second electric vehicle plant GM has opened so far. GM has announced it hopes to sell over 1 million electric vehicles by 2025 and is aiming to have a zero-emissions lineup of cars for sale by 2035. 

To cut costs, GM decided to close the factory along with four other plants in 2018. However, the company switched lanes in 2019 after a 40-day strike by UAW members and decided to invest $2.2 billion to revamp the plant to assemble electric vehicles. 

Mary Barra

Barra said both GM and the nation are making “positive strides toward a future with more jobs in the U.S. and zero emissions.” 

“Beyond our company, this plant represents a promising new chapter for Detroit and Hamtramck and the state of Michigan,” Barra said. “Above all, Factory Zero is an American Electric Vehicle factory built on General Motors’ legacy of innovation.”

Biden also was joined by United Auto Workers President Ray Curry and several Democratic members of Michigan’s congressional delegation and the Legislature. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer didn’t attend because her office said she was meeting with semiconductor chip industry leaders in California. 

“We know that building back better means protecting the economy, keeping us a world leader, creating and protecting American jobs here in the state of Michigan and in the United States of America, bringing back our supply-chain, and protecting the environment all at the same time,” U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) said.


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Julia Forrest
Julia Forrest

Julia Forrest is a contributor to the Michigan Advance. She has been covering Michigan and national politics for two years at the Michigan Daily and OpenSecrets. She studies public policy at the University of Michigan.