President Biden on Thursday conceded that his $740 billion tax-and-climate law includes “glitches” but said he wouldn’t apologize for his seminal legislative accomplishment despite sharp criticism from French President Emmanuel Macron.
Mr. Biden mounted his defense of the Inflation Reduction Act in a joint press conference with Mr. Macron following the two leaders’ Oval Office confab.
“The United States makes no apology, and I make no apologies, since I wrote it, for the legislation,” Mr. Biden told reporters. “But there are occasions when you write a massive piece of legislation … there’s obviously going to be glitches in it, and the need to reconcile changes.”
Though he said he wouldn’t apologize, Mr. Biden said he didn’t intend to harm his European allies.
“It was never intended, when I wrote the legislation, to exclude folks who were cooperating with us,” Mr. Biden said. “That was not the intention.”
He is hosting Mr. Macron for the first state visit of the Biden presidency, including a state dinner.
Mr. Macron is among a chorus of European leaders who say the tax-and-climate law — which includes generous tax credits for U.S.-manufactured electric vehicles — threatens to crush their manufacturing as automakers move operations across the Atlantic to capitalize on the incentives.
Mr. Macron chided the protectionist provisions in the law as “super aggressive” in a closed-door meeting Wednesday with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, according to Agence France-Presse.
The matter has been a key point of contention between the two countries that has marred an official visit meant to showcase the close ties between the U.S. and its oldest ally.
The White House billed the glitzy affair as a chance for the two countries to rearm their close alignment on global issues, including climate change, the war in Ukraine and competition with China.
The French envoy signaled that they aired their grievances over the law in closed-door discussions at the White House.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who is joining Mr. Macron for his visit this week, previewed a potential request for “exemptions on some duties and limits imposed” by the Biden administration before departing on his trip to Washington.
“The real question we must ask ourselves is what sort of globalization is ahead of us?” Mr. Le Maire told France 3 television. “It is time Europe favors European production. All European states must understand that today in the face of these American decisions, we must learn to better protect and defend our economic interests.”
Mr. Macron dulled his criticism slightly in front of reporters.
“We want to succeed together, not one against the other,” he said. “This is the outcome of our discussions this morning, and this is exactly the philosophy that I share and it is the one that we need.”
Mr. Biden pledged to continue to work with France and other European allies to smooth issues that have arisen from the legislation, but stopped short of pledging specific carve-outs.
“There are tweaks that we can make that can fundamentally make it easier for European countries to participate and or be on their own,” he said. “But that is a matter to be worked out.”