Biden allies join Republicans in vote to resume solar tariffs

·2 min read

The Senate on Wednesday voted 56-41 to override President Biden’s two-year suspension of tariffs on solar imports from four Southeast Asia countries.

The resolution, sponsored by Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), is the Senate version of a measure that passed the House on Friday in a 221-202 vote. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was the sole Republican to vote against the resolution in the upper chamber.

While Manchin has joined several Republican-led Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions on energy and environmental rules in the past, this resolution also drew the support of Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Bob Casey (Pa.), John Fetterman (Pa.), Gary Peters (Mich.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.).

Manchin, Tester and Brown are all red-state Democrats up for reelection next year. Wyden and Casey have generally been consistent votes for Biden’s environmental agenda.

“I support full enforcement of U.S laws that defend American workers and manufacturers against trade cheating, especially when it comes to clean energy,” Wyden said in a statement to The Hill prior to the vote. “Suspending tariffs on Chinese solar cells and modules that have been determined by the Department of Commerce to be circumventing U.S. trade laws will make America less competitive in the clean energy economy.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), one of the Senate’s most vocal proponents of the pause, spoke out against the resolution on the floor, calling the moratorium a “bridge” that’s essential to the U.S. solar industry.

“We can’t cut off supply of imported solar panels by enacting massive, retroactive tariffs that will just kill solar projects; it will kill American jobs, and it will hurt American workers,” Rosen said.

“Enacting retroactive tariffs will even directly harm U.S. solar panel manufacturing businesses by cutting off their major source of solar cells — a key component in the panels — making it that much harder for them and us to compete with China,” she added.

A CRA resolution allows a simple majority of Congress to vote to override a federal rule. The White House has said Biden will veto the resolution, saying in a statement last week that the suspension is necessary to help the U.S. build out its solar capacity.

“[T]hese investments will take time to ramp up production — which is why last spring, the President declared an emergency to ensure that Americans have access to reliable, affordable, and clean electricity,” the White House said. “This rule is necessary to satisfy the demand for reliable and clean energy while ensuring Commerce is able to rigorously enforce U.S. trade laws, hold trading partners accountable, and defend U.S. industries and workers from unfair trade actions.”

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