Congressional Update

Last week started slow and then ended extremely fast in Washington, which wrapped up in a rapid succession of big news. First, after a meeting at the White House between the four top Congressional leaders, the House and Senate cut a bipartisan deal to avert a government shutdown, passing a short term, one-week extension with the intention of wrapping things up next week. This was after many in the Capitol expected at least a brief shutdown.

In addition, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced he would step down as leader of the conference after the election this fall. The Kentucky Senator now has the record of being the longest serving party leader in the Senate but has recently been clashing with his caucus and the former (and possibly future) President over a range of things, including U.S. funding in Ukraine and the outcome of the 2020 election.

In addition to that top-line update, members of Congress took a longshot vote to override President Biden’s veto of a Congressional Review Act resolution that would undo the Administration’s Buy America waiver for EV chargers. It’s atypical for veto’s to be overridden, and this one was no different, but even so, veto override votes don’t often occur as they’re usually deemed destined to fail, so taking it up at all is a stern rebuke of the White House’s position. At the same time, in a hearing of the House Science Committee, the fire chief from San Bernardino County stressed that firefighters and other first responders will need additional specialized training to fight EV fires, because they’re vastly different than a typical vehicle fire.

Separately, four high ranking republicans, including Senate Environment and Public Works Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) urged EPA to reject California’s request for a Clean Air Act waiver that would permit it to exercise its ban on gas-powered cars by 2035.