Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia alleged that the DOE had broken the law by altering the definitions in the Inflation Reduction Act in a heated exchange with Sec. Jennifer Granholm of the Department of Energy (DOE), at a Senate Energy Committee hearing Thursday.
The exchange occurred after Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana had asked the secretary why the DOE had recommended that the Treasury Department use definitions provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law when considering applications for tax credits and other benefits under the IRA. Granholm responded that the DOE did not want to “redo what Congress had just passed” and opted to go with the definitions provided in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.
Cassidy continued to question the secretary on other issues, and when his time elapsed, Manchin, who serves as the committee chair and who was a key player in crafting the IRA, interrupted the proceedings to call out Granholm.
“Madam Secretary … Forget about the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, just forget about it, because this is what we passed! This is the bill!” said Manchin, raising his voice as he pointed to a slide containing the IRA’s definition of a “qualifying battery component” for the purposes of tax credits. “And this is what you all broke the law by advising, referring back to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill … this is the IRA we passed … tells you exactly what your manufacturing credits will be, and what they’re gonna be based on. That’s all I’m saying! Follow the law!”
The two then spoke over one another briefly after Granholm began her response by saying “we have no incentive,” prompting Manchin to exasperatedly reply “I know you don’t!”
“We have no incentive to rewrite the law, is what I was saying,” Granholm finished, before Manchin once again pressed her.
“Why did you all refer to [the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law] when it was very clear this is the law?” Manchin said, pointing to a slide containing the IRA’s definition. “This is what manufacturing is!”
“I think there is a difference of opinion among the lawyers about what the actual definition is … ” Granholm began before she was once again interrupted by Manchin, who wryly claimed “It depends on who’s paying the lawyers!”
After Manchin’s remark drew chuckles from those in attendance, including Granholm, Manchin apologized and stressed that he was worried that the DOE’s definitions would “bust the budget” would cost more than the intended definition, before calling on Independent Sen. Angus King of Maine to continue the hearing.
Manchin has repeatedly criticized the Treasury Department’s implementation of the IRA, going so far as to call it “political malpractice” that would give foreign firms access to funding meant for American manufacturers, potentially exploding the cost of the bill. While the Congressional Budget Office initially forecast the bill to cost the government roughly $370 billion, a recent estimate by Goldman Sachs puts the projected cost of the bill at around $1.2 trillion.
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