Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks Ahead Of President Biden’s Trip To Michigan, And On Schumer’s Job-Creating, Carbon-Reducing Clean Cars For America Proposal, Now A Central Element Of The American Jobs Plan

May 18, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding President Biden’s trip to Michigan today and the importance of accelerating our country’s transition to zero-emission vehicles through Senator Schumer’s Clean Cars For America Proposal. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

“A landmark report from the International Energy Agency says countries need to move faster and more aggressively to cut planet-warming pollution.”

That’s from the New York Times this morning. The International Energy Agency for the first time is recommending specific steps to accomplish the drastic cuts in carbon emissions that nearly every developed country has pledged to achieve. One of the principal recommendations is the “rapid phase-out of gasoline-powered vehicles.”

It just so happens that this report lands on the same day that President Biden is in Michigan to celebrate the release of a new line of electric pickup trucks. As one of the best selling cars in America, replacing gasoline pickups with electric pickups could save us huge amounts of carbon.

But we shouldn’t stop there. Transportation still accounts for roughly one-third of America’s carbon output. There is no way the United States can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions without looking at how Americans drive.

So I have put forward an ambitious, comprehensive proposal to accelerate our country’s transition to zero-emission vehicles. We’ve called it Clean Cars for America. The goal of that plan is that by 2040, all vehicles should be clean. All vehicles on the road should be clean. The International Energy Agency, by the way, recommends the world reach that target by 2050, so we beat them by 10 years if this proposal goes into effect.

My plan would help us get there 10 years ahead of time. It’s one of the many reasons that President Biden put Clean Cars for America at the heart of his American Jobs Plan—something I hope and expect he’ll discuss today in Michigan. And I want to thank the Biden Administration. They have been open to many new ideas, the American Competitive and Innovation act that we will be debating today, and Clean Cars for America, which they have more or less adopted in whole and put into in their Build Back Better plan.

The benefits would be far-reaching, far beyond the subject of climate change. For a long time, critics said you can’t help the environment without hurting the economy or costing jobs. Not so: it’s actually the reverse. We negotiated the Clean Cars for America proposal with the unions, with the environmental groups, and with the auto companies, and all three are on board.

The good news is that Clean Cars for America would create tens of thousands of good paying, union jobs in battery manufacturing, construction, and auto-making. Through targeted investments, it would put Americans to work all across the country building charging stations for a new fleet of electric cars. Right now, China leads the world in the electric vehicle market, overtaking us in 2015. We need to take back the initiative, and create thousands upon thousands of good-paying jobs as we do.

So I'm very glad that the Biden Administration has taken this proposal and adopted it. We worked, as I said, long and hard, for the first time, on a major environmental proposal to bring our friends in the union movement on board, so that workers saw that their future—a bright future, a prosperous future—was with clean energy, that we weren't excluding them but including them.

And that’s why, unlike many proposals in the past, my Clean Cars for America proposal unites the environmental community, the labor movement, and major auto makers. The Sierra Club, the UAW, Ford and GM are all supportive. Isn't that amazing? Isn't that great?

When you want to get something done in Washington, you need to build a broad and powerful coalition for support. That’s what we did for Clean Cars for America. The Senate, and the country, should prioritize it this year.