Vice President Kamala Harris and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg were criticized Monday for a “tone deaf” event focused on promoting electric buses as gas prices soared for most Americans.
Oklahoma Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, tweeted, “The Biden Administration could not be more tone-deaf.”
“Vice President Kamala Harris and [Transportation] Secretary Pete Buttigieg spent the afternoon promoting electric vehicles and Green New Deal policies.
“Are you kidding me?” Mullin wrote.
Harris and her possible 2024 rival Buttigieg teamed up for an event celebrating the one-year anniversary of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, which passed last March with only Democratic support.
Neither Harris nor Buttigieg specifically mentioned gas prices while speaking in the White House-adjacent Eisenhower Executive Office Building — or the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which threatens to send those prices even higher.
Harris asked her audience to “imagine a future” with electric vehicles.
“Imagine a future: the freight trucks that deliver bread and milk to our grocery store shelves and the buses that take children to school and parents to work. Imagine all the heavy-duty vehicles that keep our supply lines strong and allow our economy to grow. Imagine that they produce zero emissions. Well, you all imagined it,” she said.
“That’s why we’re here today,” Harris continued. “Because we have the ability to see what can be unburdened by what has been and then to make the possible actually happen.”
Harris announced the release of $1.5 billion to local transit authorities for electric buses.
The vice president said the Transportation Department also was releasing $2.2 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act to 35 transit agencies in 18 states to “help communities and bring more transit workers and keep transit services running.”
A new EPA rule will tighten emissions standards for heavy trucks, Harris said.
In addition to Rescue Plan Act funding for transit, the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal, signed in November, contained $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations and $5 billion to buy electric and low-emission buses.
“Our transportation sector has reached a turning point. We are all in the midst of a turning point,” Harris said. We have the technology to transition to a zero-emission fleet. Our administration together, all of us, is working to make that possibility a reality.”
“We can clean our air and protect the health of our children. We can connect all our communities for affordable, accessible, and reliable public transportation. We can address the climate crisis and grow our economy at the same time,” she continued.
Buttigieg said electric buses could improve public health and that “transportation has to be a big part of the solution to the climate crisis and to air pollution. One of our tools for doing that is public transit.”
Biden’s proposed nearly $2 trillion social spending plan — declared “dead” by centrist Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WVa.) in the evenly divided Senate — contained $555 billion for environmental initiatives including $12,500 rebates for the purchase of electric vehicles.