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Democrats Move to Reverse Biden’s Tariff Exemption for Chinese Solar Panels

Senate Democrats have come out in support of a bill that seeks to reverse President Joe Biden’s executive order that exempted Chinese solar panel manufacturers from tariffs. 

This comes as the House of Representatives prepares to vote on a companion bill. The Senate and House bills were introduced earlier this year, months after Biden implemented a 24-month pause on the enforcement of solar panel anti-circumvention tariffs. 

However, the executive action has come under scrutiny, with critics claiming it unfairly protects Chinese solar exports while harming the American solar industry.

US relying too much on foreign nations for energy needs

Speaking out in favor of the bill, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, commented that the United States relies too much on foreign nations, such as China, for energy needs. 

Manchin further argued that failing to enforce existing trade laws undermines the goal of onshoring energy supply chains, including solar. “I cannot fathom why the Administration and Congress would consider extending that reliance any longer and am proud to join this Congressional Review Act (CRA) to rescind the rule,” he said. 

Manchin also co-sponsored the Senate resolution overturning Biden’s actions.

Credit: DepositPhotos

Democrats speak out in support of the bill

Other Senate Democrats, including committee leaders alike, spoke out in support of the bill. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, chair of the Senate Banking Committee, said he had fought his whole career to stand up for Ohio manufacturers and workers when they are forced to compete with cheap, unfairly subsidized imports, and he was not going to stop now. 

Sen. Brown expressed his concern about the development: “The Chinese government will do anything to undermine American manufacturing and would like nothing more than to kill the American solar manufacturing industry before it takes off.” 

Also, in making their support of the bill known, Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said he would vote for the bill because he supports “red, white, and blue manufacturing jobs.” While Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., vowed to support the resolution, declaring that “China’s got to be held accountable.”

It is noteworthy, however, that not all Democrats favor the bill. According to a spokesperson, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., a critic of China’s economic aggression, is still reviewing the bill.

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Bidens admin rule ‘protects’ China

Industry groups have also weighed in on the issue. Nick Lacovella, a spokesperson for the Coalition for a Prosperous America, a pro-tariff industry group, said that standing up for American manufacturers and workers, especially in the face of illegal, predatory Chinese trade activity, should be an issue that unites lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

“The facts are clear: Commerce confirmed that China is illegally violating U.S. trade law, and the Biden administration’s misguided rule protects them,” Lacovella noted. 

Months before Biden issued his executive action temporarily removing tariffs from the Chinese solar industry, the Commerce Department opened a probe into whether Chinese manufacturers were illegally routing solar panels through Southeast Asia to avoid U.S. tariffs. 

In December, the Commerce Department released preliminary investigation findings showing that four large solar companies had routed products through Cambodia, Malaysia, and Vietnam to circumvent duties. However, with Biden’s tariff enforcement moratorium in effect, the agency has not enforced trade laws prohibiting such activity.

In response, a group of Republicans and Democrats led by Reps. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., and Bill Posey, R-Fla., joined by Reps. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., Bob Latta, R-Ohio, Terri Sewell, D-Ala., and Garret Graves, R-La., introduced a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to nix Biden’s executive action. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., introduced the Senate version of the CRA in February.

Despite being a strong supporter and an advocate of the President, Congressman Dan Kildee told Fox News Digital in a statement that he disagreed with the administration’s policy on this matter. 

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