President Joe Biden has vetoed legislation backed largely by Republicans that he said would have undercut his Buy America policies that apply to electric vehicle charging stations. 

The stakes have risen on the measure, which Biden vetoed on Jan. 24, because of the $7.5-billion, five-year infusion EV chargers received in the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Both proponents and opponents of the now-vetoed bill contend that their views would protect U.S. EV manufacturers from foreign competition, particularly from Chinese companies. 

Biden said in his veto message that if the measure was enacted, it would cancel existing domestic manufacturing standards for Federal Highway Administration-funded chargers and also harm U.S. manufacturing and jobs.

The House had passed the bill on Jan. 11 on a 209-198 vote, basically along party lines.

The Senate had approved the measure last November, 50-48, with 46 Republicans and four Democrats and Independents voting for it.

Those margins fall far short of the two-thirds majority needed in both chambers of Congress to override Biden's veto. 

Biden also said that the proposed measure would weaken Buy America requirements by reverting to FHWA's general waiver for manufactured products. He contended that it would allow federal funds, including the IIJA's $7.5 billion, to pay for chargers manufactured in other countries, including China.

If the veto stands, the Buy America status quo would continue. It is based on a 2023 policy that requires FHWA-funded EV chargers to be made in the U.S.—including that chargers' iron and steel housings use domestic iron and steel.

The policy includes a temporary waiver for EV chargers from Buy America requirements that is due to phase out on July 1—putting the Buy America requirements into effect. For chargers manufactured after that date, at least 55% of the cost of all of their components must be made in the U.S.

Backers of the Bill

For their part, supporters of the vetoed bill contend that it was needed to block EV chargers made in China from being used on FHWA-funded projects. 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who sponsored the now-vetoed measure, had said in a statement last year that the Biden policy "hurts American companies and empowers foreign adversaries, like China, to control our energy infrastructure."

He added, "We should never use American dollars to subsidize Chinese-made products."