Exclusive: Nine Senate Democrats say solar-tariff resolution would be ‘devastating blow’ to solar industry

·2 min read

Nine Senate Democrats warned against a bipartisan resolution to resume tariffs on solar imports in a letter shared exclusively with The Hill.

In the letter, set to be published Wednesday, the senators expressed support for President Biden’s two-year moratorium on duties for solar imports from four Southeast Asian countries.

The House on Friday voted 221-202 in favor of a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to resume the tariffs. The Senate version, scheduled for a vote Wednesday, is likely to pass, with at least four Democrats joining the Republicans in voting for the bill: Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Proponents of the resolution have said the tariffs are vital to protecting American solar manufacturing. However, both the Biden administration and the nine Democrats say the reprieve of the tariff suspension is necessary to allow the U.S. to build up enough solar infrastructure to reduce that dependence.

The letter was led by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), a longtime ally of the domestic solar industry, and joined by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

“By voting to pass this misguided resolution, Congress would deal a devastating blow to the American solar industry, which will kill jobs, raise energy costs, and decrease our ability to achieve clean energy independence,” the senators wrote.

“Supporting the American solar industry and domestic manufacturing are not mutually exclusive goals,” they added. “In fact, both goals are closely related and depend on ensuring high tariffs don’t go into effect right away: Without imported solar cells, American solar panel manufacturers can’t make panels.”

The CRA allows a simple majority in both houses of Congress to overrule a federal rule. In this session of Congress, it has already been used against Biden administration rules on truck emissions and green investing. Biden has vowed to veto the tariff resolution if it reaches his desk.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.