Warnock hails progress on police measure, pushes electric-car perk

Sen. Raphael Warnock
Sen. Raphael Warnock(Contributed)
Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 11:32 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON - The House on Friday approved a measure by Sen. Raphael Warnock that’s meant to provide federal funding for training, equipment, mental health support, officer recruitment and retention to support small law enforcement agencies.

Meanwhile, the Georgia Democrat urged the U.S. Treasury secretary Friday to use “maximum flexibility” in implementing a revised tax credit for Americans buying electric vehicles. That’s a perk Hyundai stands to lose as the automaker invests billions of dollars to open its first American electric vehicle plant in Georgia.

A freshman senator, Warnock is seeking re-election this fall against Republican challenger Herschel Walker, a Georgia football hero and close friend of former President Donald Trump, in a swing state where Democrats have no guarantee of holding political ground they gained in 2020.

Polls show Warnock and Walker are virtually deadlocked ahead of the November election.

Police measure

Among the provisions of the House-passed Invest to Protect Act are funding for officer safety, de-escalation and domestic violence training and body cameras.

“I’m glad the House passed my bipartisan legislation to help keep our families and communities in Georgia safe by strengthening critical support for our small local law enforcement agencies,” said Warnock, D-Ga.


Among the bill’s supporters are the Burke County and Screven County sheriffs.

Citing a $50 million grant program, Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams said in an endorsement letter:

“We are excited about the opportunity to solicit help from the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services to help small agencies who are struggling to compete with recruiting, hiring, training and retaining the best-qualified persons to keep our communities safe.”

Screven County Sheriff Mike Kile also wrote a letter of support, citing the need to recruit and train officers.

Electric vehicles

Warnock sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen raising concerns that the revised electric vehicle tax credit President Joe Biden signed last month as part of a sweeping climate and health law could place some automakers at a competitive disadvantage.

That’s because the new law says the credit of up to $7,500 only applies if the electric vehicles and their batteries are manufactured in North America.

That means vehicles made by South Korea-based Hyundai would no longer qualify for the credit until the company starts producing EVs in Georgia, which isn’t expected until 2025.

“I urge you to offer maximum flexibility for vehicle manufacturers and consumers to take full advantage of the electric vehicle tax credits available under the law,” Warnock’s letter said.

The U.S. Treasury Department is responsible for adopting regulations to carry out revisions to the EV tax credit approved by Congress. Warnock’s letter doesn’t request any specific remedy from the department.

In an interview, Warnock said he hopes to see Treasury officials interpret Congress’ revisions in a way that “we don’t end up punishing the very companies, like Hyundai, that are helping us bring this clean energy future.”

Hyundai announced in May plans to build a $5.5 billion plant for manufacturing EVs and the batteries that power them in Bryan County, west of Savannah. The company plans to hire at least 8,100 workers.

Overdraft fees

Thursday at a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Warnock pushed the heads of Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase & Co., U.S. Bancorp, and the PNC Financial Services Group to eliminate onerous and confusing overdraft fees.

“When it comes to costs for families, the country’s biggest banks often set the pace for the rest of the country. This is why it is so important for us to hold the biggest banks accountable for the services they provide,” Warnock said.

In December 2021, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a report revealing that many banks have a deep dependence on overdraft fees.

Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., meanwhile at a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing pressed Charles Scharf, head of Wells Fargo, on what steps banks should take to ensure banking services are available in rural areas.

Ossoff noted that Dooly, Hancock and Wheeler counties in Georgia have all suffered from important bank closures in the last year alone.