House Republicans set vote on DC’s electric car ‘mandate’

By Kelsey Brugger | 03/05/2024 06:26 AM EST

The Oversight and Accountability Committee will vote this week to strike down the District’s stringent tailpipe emissions rulemaking.

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) speaks with reporters at the U.S. Capitol.

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) is sponsoring legislation against Washington following California's tailpipe standards. Francis Chung/POLITICO

House Republicans have a new target in their pursuit to dismantle the District of Columbia’s local rules: the “electric vehicle mandate.”

The House Oversight and Accountability Committee on Thursday is scheduled to mark up legislation that would bar Washington from adopting California’s more stringent tailpipe pollution standards, part of the Democrats’ plans to accelerate the transition to EVs. Other legislation will also be considered.

“This is yet another example of out-of-touch politics that hurt American families in the name of costly and ineffective ‘green’ policies from Democrats,” said Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.), who introduced the “D.C. Consumer Vehicle Choice Protection Act,” which would strike a Washington action finalized in December.


She added, “Mandating the use of electric vehicles will cost American families more than the median household income and will hurt minorities the most.”

Environmentalists counter that the air pollution rule improves public health, particularly in cities like Washington where asthma rates are high.

EPA regulates emissions from cars and trucks under the Clean Air Act, but for decades California, has been granted a waiver to adopt stricter regulations. More than a dozen states — as well as the District of Columbia — followed suit.

In 2022, the California Air Resources Board adopted the the Advanced Clean Cars II rule, which phases out gas guzzlers by 2035 and, in the meantime, ramps up the sale of low- and zero-emission cars.

The House last year passed a bill, H.R. 1435, that would block EPA from giving states waivers that “limit the sale or use of new motor vehicles with internal combustion engines.”

A Republican aide granted anonymity to speak candidly said actions like those in Washington and California have been “widely criticized as imposing an ‘electric vehicle mandate,’ greatly limiting consumer choice and creating vast implications for auto manufacturers and dealerships.”

The aide cast the California rule as another cog in the Biden administration’s “aggressive” EPA action against climate change.

Luna’s bill functions in a similar way to a disapproval of a federal rule under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to kill an administration’s recently finalized regulations.


Since Washington is under federal jurisdiction, Congress has the power to control the District’s affairs, as it did last year by successfully blocking a contentious crime bill. That effort was backed by a handful of Democrats.

Critics argue Republican actions are part of a concerning trend of Congress trying to usurp the District’s local control.

“The Oversight Committee needs to take its hands off D.C.,” said Sierra Club D.C. local chapter Chair Matt Gravatt. “It’s undemocratic.”

What’s more, he said, the standards aim to improve air pollution and public health.

“D.C. residents have just as much right to breathe clean air as any other state,” Gravatt said. “That’s what matters here.”

Republicans argued Washington isn’t equipped to handle an onslaught of new EVs on the roads. Fox News ran a segment when Washington finalized the California rule earlier this year headlined: “DC greenlights aggressive electric vehicle mandate despite critics sounding alarm on high consumer costs.”

According to the committee aide, there are only 5,047 public charging stations across the District and in Arlington and Alexandria in northern Virginia and more than 689,000 residents in the District alone.

“This progressive electric vehicle mandate is not tenable for District residents, tourists, and government employees that travel within the District daily,” the aide said.

The District’s Department of Energy and Environment did not return a request for an interview about this topic.

Luna also leaned into the increasingly common GOP argument that clean energy technologies rely on adversaries like China, which dominates battery production and lithium mining.

The legislation “repeals this policy so that consumers can continue to be free to choose the vehicles that make the most sense for their families,” she said.

Schedule: The markup is Thursday, March 7, at 10 a.m. in 2154 Rayburn and via webcast.