WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump has asked federal agencies to look for ways to cut subsidies to General Motors following the automaker’s plans to close factories and lay off thousands of workers, said a person familiar with his instructions.
Trump said in a tweet Tuesday that his administration is “looking at cutting all @GM subsidies,” including tax breaks for the purchase of electric cars. But a change in the tax break would require action by Congress.
Trump has directed a broader examination of ways for the federal government to block funds to GM, the person said Wednesday. Fox Business reported earlier Wednesday that the Energy Department was examining funds provided to GM. Other agencies have received similar instructions, the person said.
GM has received about $333.5 million in federal spending in the past 12 months, according to a U.S. government website that tracks federal expenditures. More than 93 percent of that came through federal vehicle purchases for use by government departments.
It’s also a frequent recipient of major r&d and defense contracts. Among the largest are a Department of Defense project that began in 2000 and earned the company $167.9 million as well as two Department of Energy grants of more than $100 million related to electric vehicles and batteries awarded during the Obama administration. And U.S. taxpayers lost more than $10 billion in the rescue of the company during the financial crisis a decade ago.
GM is on track to generate an estimated $144.2 billion in revenue this year.
Meanwhile, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch questioned Trump’s call to end the tax break for EVs made by GM and others.
“Chairman Hatch is working with Finance Committee members to determine how to proceed on tax extenders, but generally does not think tax policy should be made in retaliation for business decisions,” Nicole Hager, a spokeswoman for the panel, said in an emailed statement.
The retiring Utah senator, whose committee oversees tax policy, is weighing which temporary industry tax breaks to renew before the end of the year.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady released legislation this week featuring a grab bag of unfinished tax business, including extensions of some breaks and fixes to last year’s tax overhaul. The EV tax credit extension isn’t included in that legislation, which faces tough odds in the Senate. Hatch hasn’t said whether he favors extending the credit.
EV buyers are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit. The credit begins to phase out for a manufacturer after the first 200,000 eligible vehicles. Tesla Inc. has reached that threshold, and GM is expected to reach it this year.