Vice President Joe Biden (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)
Washington — Vice President Joe Biden and at least three cabinet officials are expected to attend the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next week, along with the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the governor of Missouri.
Biden is expected to make a visit to the auto show Jan. 15, according to a notice sent to Michigan members of Congress and to automakers, three aides briefed on the announcement said. In recent years, Biden has expressed interest to staff members in attending the show; he attended as a Delaware senator.
Biden’s visit marks the highest profile figure from the Obama administration to visit Detroit since the city’s record setting bankruptcy filing in July. President Barack Obama has not publicly addressed the city’s Chapter 9 filing.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker will all tour the show next week, their agencies confirmed. All are new to the jobs since the last auto show, when their predecessors attended. Outgoing NHTSA Administrator David Strickland is also expected to attend.
Foxx — a former Charlotte, N.C., mayor — will open the show press preview on Monday, as did his predecessor Ray LaHood. McCarthy will tour the show. On Wednesday, Pritzker will speak to the Detroit Economic Club; she is also planning to tour the show.
The Obama administration has made the auto industry turnaround and dramatic climb in auto sales a big part of its message in recent years. Federal officials have been regular attendees at previous shows, looking at new fuel-efficient offerings. In campaign years, some presidential candidates attended the show.
Prominent Democrats, including then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have appeared. The Obama administration’s “auto czar” visited, but the government in December completed its exit from General Motors and the $49.5 billion bailout.
During the Bush and Clinton administrations, the Detroit show was used by the Transportation Department to announce policies. At the 2007 show, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters proposed tougher car safety crash tests and the addition of a side-impact test as part of the reform of the five-star crash ratings.
Gov. Rick Snyder annually tours the auto show. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., a regular attendee of the shows, is planning to return this year.