Several Democratic senators have announced that they are willing to force President Joe Biden to veto a resolution reinstating tariffs on countries linked to the Chinese solar panel industry.
The resolution — whose companion in the House recently advanced through the Ways and Means Committee with one Democratic vote — would repeal the president’s moratorium on solar tariffs to four southeast Asian nations, where a Commerce Department investigation found many Chinese solar companies were assembling their products to dodge U.S. tariffs on their products. Democratic senators that have come out in support of the resolution include Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, according to The Washington Post.
“I’ve fought my whole career to stand up for Ohio manufacturers and Ohio workers when they’re forced to compete with cheap, unfairly subsidized imports – I’m not going to stop now,” said Brown, who went on to argue that the Chinese government would “do anything” to kill the nascent U.S. solar industry, in a statement Wednesday. “The president got this one wrong. I’ve always stood up to presidents of both parties to fight for fair trade and a level playing field for Ohio workers, which is why I will support Congressional action to end the Administration’s waiver of solar tariffs.”
Today, Chairman @Sen_JoeManchin co-sponsored @SenRickScott‘s joint resolution disapproving of the Administration’s attempts to pause tariffs on solar imports from four Southeast Asian countries. Read Chairman Manchin’s statement below ⬇️ https://t.co/dh7HaLO3Se pic.twitter.com/yqgSOTZG0E
— SenateEnergyDems (@EnergyDems) April 26, 2023
Biden has announced that he will veto the resolution if it is passed, but supporters of the moratorium have expressed concern that Republicans may attach the bill to must-pass legislation to force Democrats to repeatedly take difficult votes, according to the Post, citing an anonymous House Democratic aide. Republicans could secure 60 votes in the Senate, gaining the support of at least 11 Senate Democrats, according to the Post.
“I’m worried that if you give them 60 in the Senate, Republicans will keep coming back for more bites at the apple,” the House aide told the Post. “They’re going to find every possible way to make us take hard votes on that.”
The resolution has faced pushback from U.S. solar manufacturing advocates, who argue that the moratorium is necessary to help the industry grow. The Solar Energy Industries Association president Abigail Ross Hopper said the House Ways and Means Committee “took a hammer to business certainty and American energy independence” when advancing the resolution, in a statement last week.
The Chinese solar industry is deeply tied to forced labor of Uyghur Muslims, members of an ethnic minority in the Xinjiang region of China. Between October 2022 and January 2023, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol impounded more than 2,600 shipments of Chinese solar imports worth more than $800 million, which were found to be in violation of the Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act.
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