Politics
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Sen. Levin tries to legislate a parking place

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Caroline May
Political Reporter

The same month that Michigan Democratic Sen. Carl Levin bought his first electric car, he sponsored legislation to establish battery recharge stations in the Capitol complex’s parking areas.

The bill would give the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) the authority to provide recharging stations for electric vehicles in Senate parking lots. Levin introduced the bill in April of last year, the same month he purchased his Chevy Volt.

“Passage of this legislation will be an important statement of leadership from the Senate,” Levin said at the bill’s roll out. “It will provide an example to other employers of how they can support both the needs of their employees and our national interest in energy security.”

Thursday afternoon, Senate Republicans blocked an attempted unanimous consent vote to hotline the legislation through the Senate. Unanimous consent votes can be requested by senators to expedite proceedings, and the process can be derailed by a single objection.

At least two other co-sponsors of the legislation own electric cars as well, including Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, who purchased a Nissan Leaf in 2011. Prior to that, Alexander drove a Toyota Prius plug-in for two years. According to the Washington Post, Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley also owns an electric car.

Currently, there are no places to recharge an electric vehicle at the Capitol.

Alexander’s office told The Daily Caller that the legislation blocked on Thursday would not have required any massive installations. Instead, they said, it would designate parking places for hybrid or electric cars near electrical plugs.

The monthly fee per user would be approximately $28 – $35 — enough to offset the price and keep it “at absolutely no cost to the taxpayer.”

An earlier idea, scored by the Congressional Budget Office, had the AOC authorizing the installation of recharge stations, which the agency estimated would have cost $6,000 — a cost that would be offset later by fees. The idea favored by Levin’s legislation would just make plugs more accessible to vehicles.

Additional co-sponsors include New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry, Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, New Mexico Democratic Sen. Jeff Bingaman and Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

By 2015, President Barack Obama plans to have one million electric vehicles on the road and restrict the government to purchasing only alternative-energy vehicles.

The legislation will now have to be debated and face a vote.

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