10 Things in Politics: Biden’s EV arms race against China

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Here’s what we’re talking about:


What we’re watching today: The House select committee on the Capitol riot is set to hold its first hearing at 9:30 a.m. ET – much more on this below.

With Phil Rosen.


A red-tinted Xi Jinping, black-and-white Joe Biden, and red-tinted Elon Musk on a bright red background with yellow electric bolts in formation of the stars on China's flag.

1. DRIVING THE FUTURE: President Joe Biden wants to kick-start America’s production of electric vehicles. But the driver-in-chief’s ambitions run through a road dominated by China. Beijing has also cornered the market on the heart of modern-day EVs: batteries.

My colleagues took a look at what it would take for the US to outmuscle its competitors:

China’s dominance worries many in the industry: “China will be a threat, and eventually they’ll try to bring their cars made in China with Chinese batteries into the US and Western markets,” said Tony Posawatz, who spent over 30 years in leadership roles at General Motors.

  • The US and its allies have tried to respond by boosting domestic production: In Europe, a record 60 billion euros poured into the EV battery industry in 2019. In the US, Biden has proposed spending $US174 ($AU236) billion on charging infrastructure and incentives to woo consumers away from traditional options.

But America has a long way to go: Experts suggest the US will need to ramp up production to 1 terawatt-hour to meet domestic demand. In essence, this means the Biden administration would need to attract at least 10 more mega factories.

  • This is about a lot more than just cars: While EVs still rely on electricity that can stem from fossil fuels, their lifetime emissions are considerably lower than their gas-powered equivalents. This makes the industry a key part of the White House’s climate-crisis plans.

Read why experts and unions are worried about keeping jobs amid a battery race.

By the way: Don’t think China isn’t pushing its ambitions in the conventional arms race either. Scientists have discovered a major new sign of its nuclear-weapons ambitions.


The mob at the Capitol riot.

2. First Capitol riot committee hearing set for today: Four police officers who defended the Capitol during the January 6 insurrection are scheduled to testify before lawmakers on the panel later this morning, CBS News reports. One of those officers is Michael Fanone of the DC Metropolitan Police, who was caught on video being dragged and beaten by the mob, pleading with them by saying “I have kids.” What to expect from the hearing.

There continues to be drama surrounding the committee: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy chided two Republican lawmakers for serving on the panel after Speaker Nancy Pelosi blocked two of McCarthy’s picks. McCarthy called Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger “Pelosi Republicans.” Cheney said McCarthy’s behavior was “pretty childish.”

  • Cheney is said to be playing a big role: She may deliver an opening statement, which is traditionally reserved only for the top lawmaker of each party on a committee. But since McCarthy pulled his picks, there is no official top Republican. What this ceremonial nod shows about Democrats’ plans.


3. FDA asks Moderna and Pfizer to expand testing on children: Federal regulators want to assess whether a rare inflammation of the heart muscle that has been seen in young adults shortly after vaccination is more common in younger age groups, The Washington Post reports. The changes could delay the availability of vaccines to children ages 5 to 11.


4. Monday was a major day for vaccine mandates in the US: The Department of Veterans Affairs became the first US federal agency to require any of its employees to be vaccinated. Gov. Gavin Newsom outlined requirements for all California state employees and healthcare workers. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a similar mandate in New York City. And 300 bars in San Francisco announced they were banding together to institute their own requirements. Here’s where else vaccines will be required after what could be a “tipping point” day.


5. Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville is in trouble: Tuberville, the Auburn football coach turned US senator, is facing punishment for failing to properly disclose up to $US3.56 ($AU5) million in stock trades. Tuberville’s office says it has fixed the oversights. More on the trades, including how a critic of the Chinese government sold stock options of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.


6. Tesla earnings crushed Wall Street’s expectations, posting the company’s most profitable quarter yet: Elon Musk’s EV company seemed to emerge unscathed from the global semiconductor shortage straining the industry. Tesla’s revenue was $US11.958 billion, compared with an expected $US11.36 ($AU15) billion, and the automaker more than doubled its reported net income compared with the first quarter of 2021.


7. The shipping crisis isn’t going away: A supply-chain crisis has been brewing off the coast of Southern California for many months as massive freighters wait for dock space to open up. Port delays are near a record high. An official told my colleagues the normal number of ships waiting was between zero and one. On Friday, 33 ships were waiting to dock. Here’s what it means for consumers.


8. Former Sen. Mike Enzi died after a bike accident: Enzi was riding his bike near his home in Gillette, Wyoming, when he was injured Friday and then flown to a Colorado hospital, The Post reports. He was 77. More on his legacy here.


9. White House doesn’t want to fight with Fox: Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the Biden administration didn’t want to pick a fight with an outlet like Fox News after the Trump administration made undermining the news media a tenet of his politics. More on her comments here.


10. All the moments you missed at the Olympics: The tennis superstar Naomi Osaka suffered a shocking upset, an early ending to the gold-medal favorite’s games in her home country.

Lydia Jacoby after winning the 100-meter breaststroke.
Lydia Jacoby surprised even herself in the 100-meter breaststroke. Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images

Seward’s jolly: Lydia Jacoby, the first Alaskan Olympic swimmer, shocked even herself in her gold-medal victory in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke. The 17-year-old doesn’t even train in an Olympic-size pool. Watch her hometown celebrate.

Russians dethroned America in men’s backstroke: The reining gold medalist Ryan Murphy was unable to hold onto his title in the men’s 100-meter backstroke. The Russians Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov won gold and silver. The loss ends a streak of 12 straight gold medals for Team USA dating back to 1992 in both the 100- and 200-meter backstroke.

Hot on the heel: Russian gymnast Artur Dalaloyan helped lead members of his country to a gold medal. He is only three months removed from suffering a torn Achilles tendon.

And Tom Daley finally got his gold: The British diver ended a 13-year wait with a sublime display alongside Matty Lee in the men’s synchronized 10-meter platform event. He gave an emotional interview afterward.

Don’t miss any of the major moments: Follow our live coverage here.


Today’s trivia question: Sticking with the Olympics, can you name the gold-medal-winning teammate of Jesse Owens who later became a congressman? Email your guess and a suggested question to me at [email protected].