The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill targeting California’s efforts to phase out gas-powered cars.
The legislation, which passed the House 222-190, would bar states from limiting the sales of gas-powered cars and rescind any federal approvals for states to do so that were issued since the start of 2022.
While the vote was largely along party lines, eight Democrats voted with Republicans in favor of the bill. They are Reps. Yadira Caraveo (N.M.), Jim Costa (Calif.), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Donald Davis (N.C.), Jared Golden (Maine), Brian Higgins (N.Y.), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (Wash.) and Gabe Vasquez (N.M.)
The bill does not explicitly mention California.
However, under the Clean Air Act, the state can pursue clean car rules that are stricter than those from the federal government if they get permission from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Last year, the EPA reinstated a waiver allowing a California rule aimed at limiting vehicular pollution to take effect. Since then, the state has also eyed a complete phaseout of new sales of gas-powered cars to increase electric vehicle usage.
Other states often adopt California’s rules, giving them additional power beyond the state’s borders.
Despite its House passage, the Republican-led legislation is not expected to advance or become law. It would face opposition in the Democratic-led Senate, and the White House recently released a statement outlining its opposition.
“The Administration strongly opposes passage of H.R. 1435,” read the statement, which stopped short of an explicit veto threat. It said the bill would “restrict the ability of California and its citizens to address its severe air pollution challenges.”
Nevertheless, the bill represents another point where Republicans can criticize the Biden administration as energy policies — particularly as they pertain to household items — is an area they have honed in on.
“Restrictive government mandates isn’t how we’re going to lead the next hundred years, yet, that’s what EPA and California are trying to do,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) said.
The bill’s passage comes at a time when auto workers are set to strike. The shift to electric vehicles has been one area of discontent, as the union has accused automakers of using the transition to electric vehicles to undercut wages.
Former President Trump has seized on these concerns, railing against electric vehicles as he looks to win over voters in the swing state of Michigan, where auto manufacturing is a major industry.