"I wasn't expecting anybody to speak out at this point. It was fantastic," Gates said. He said he's spent "countless hours" trying to get dealers engaged on the issue, but said he's been hamstrung because his legislators are all Republicans.
Republicans have vowed to oppose the Build Back Better Act.
"I think we've been successful in getting more dealers involved; it's almost an obsession," Gates said, adding that he has been focused on encouraging sympathetic dealers who have Democratic representatives to weigh in on the issue. "I talk to anybody and everybody about it."
Manchin told Automotive News his opposition to the provision was immediate.
"When I heard about this, what they were putting in the bill, I went right to the sponsor [Stabenow] and I said, 'This is wrong. This can't happen. It's not who we are as a country. It's not how we built this country, and the product should speak for itself,' " he said. "We shouldn't use everyone's tax dollars to pick winners and losers. If you're a capitalist economy that we are in society then you let the product speak for itself, and hopefully, we'll get that, that'll be corrected."
Asked what Stabenow's response was, he said: "Not good. I respect that, because she's fighting for her [constituents] and I'm fighting for mine. I'm just fighting for fairness in the system, and hopefully, we'll prevail."
Stabenow's office released a statement in response, saying: "Senator Manchin and I work together on many issues, and I was proud to stand with him two years ago to help the members of the United Mine Workers of America union in West Virginia. At that time, some argued his bill was unfair and was picking winners and losers. But we rejected that argument and stood together to protect union pensions. This issue is no different. Standing up for hardworking Americans is always the right thing to do."
At the event to announce Toyota's investment to build hybrid transaxles, Ted Ogawa, CEO of Toyota Motor North America, told Manchin and others in attendance that "to be successful, we need the opportunity to compete on an equal, level playing field with all automakers.
"Given that chance, without any added disadvantage placed on the backs of our team members, we are confident you will help build vehicles customers will choose in an open marketplace."