A plan to use taxpayer money to help fund the new Ford electric vehicle battery plant in Michigan has been rejected by state legislators.
On Saturday, the Michigan House Freedom Caucus held a press conference to object to using tax dollars to fund the plant.
The construction of the new “megasite” in Marshal has faced fierce opposition from locals.
However, the state appropriated $630 million for the project on Friday.
The controversial move sees Ford partner with a China-based EV battery maker with ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Michigan State Rep. Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers), the caucus chair, said that the appropriation didn’t follow the Michigan Constitution.
The Constitution requires a two-thirds majority for funding private purposes.
The spending bill passed the state House on a vote of 56 vs. 53.
Carra accused the Democrat majority of circumventing the Constitution by calling the project a public purpose, “even though it’s giving tax dollars from the hardworking middle class to a private company.”
“It’s a redistribution of wealth from the hardworking middle class to the politically connected, and that’s a very big problem,” he added.
Carra has some allies in the state Senate. Before the appropriation bill was passed in the state’s upper house, Sen. Jonathan Lindsay (R-Allen Township) proposed an amendment asking for a national security review.
The review would ensure no state funds would go to a project with partners who have ties to the CCP military or have any involvement in forced labor.
All 20 Democrats voted against the amendment, and all 18 Republican senators voted for it, he said at the press conference.
“There’s no reason to move forward on a project like this if the people behind it can’t go along with a simple review to protect our national security,” Lindsay said.
During his floor speech on Feb. 28, he cited Virginia’s withdrawal from housing the Ford plant over national security concerns as a reason for his amendment.
Chinese EV battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL) rose to prominence with the help of $155 million in Chinese subsidies between 2015 and 2017, a time during which foreign providers had no access to the Chinese EV battery market.
Since 2018, CATL’s chairman Zeng Yuqun has served as a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a political advisory body to the communist regime.
Zeng’s committee membership was extended this year, until 2028.
Joan Chapman, a property owner who hasn’t sold her land to the local economic development agency for the Ford-CATL plant, said at the press event that the story of the new project was “a story of loss.”
“We’ve lost the feeling of security and home because we live there. We live there,” she said, adding that the community was divided, and there were people who accused her family of being “conspiracy theorists” and “crazy.”
“I don’t think it’s a done deal,” Chapman said to the 60 people in the room, referring to the Ford-CATL plant.
Another resident echoed, “It’s not a done deal, and we are not finished fighting it.”
Julie Bryant, who bought a home in Marshall Township about three years ago for the small-town appeal, said she would organize a new Facebook group: “Stop the China Ford mega site.”
However, whether the group will resort to legal means to stall the Ford-CATL plant is unclear.
On Feb. 16, eight Michigan State Representatives wrote a letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer saying: “We ask that you end your discussions with this company [Chinese battery maker], and we strongly object to using any taxpayer dollars to fund the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to expand its destructive influence in the United States.”
The eight legislators are Reps. David Martin, Jaime Greene, Andrew Fink, Mike Hoadley, William Bruck, Bob Bezotte, Greg Markkanen, and Andrew Beeler, a House Freedom Caucus member.
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