House Votes To Restore Solar Tariffs
The United States House of Representatives voted 221-202 to reinstate tariffs on solar panels that President Joseph Biden had paused to boost solar installations in the US, according to the AP. Biden said he would veto the bill if it passed the Senate, while if it becomes law, businesses in the solar industry could face up to $1 billion in retroactive penalties.
Leaders in the House from both parties were concerned that the moratorium was allowing Chinese manufacturers to get around tariffs and anti-dumping enforcement by moving operations to Southeast Asia.
“These trade abuses are well-known to all of us in this chamber,” said Rep. Jason Smith (R-Missouri), the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. “By shipping its products through Cambodia, Taiwan, Malaysia and Vietnam, Chinese officials have set up a scheme that cheats American workers and consumers. We know there’s wrongdoing going on. We know China is cheating and that’s precisely why members of both parties were stunned and disappointed when the White House made the misguided decision [for the moratorium].”
In contrast, according to Politico, the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, said that the bill “would punish American workers, would punish American businesses and set us back on our climate goals.”
The Biden administration is caught between two policy goals: first, to reduce American greenhouse gas emissions by 2035 and second, to rebuild America’s industrial capacity to produce solar panels and other green technology, according to The Hill. Last year’s Inflation Reduction Act included several measures designed to promote that capacity, but it’s not yet sufficient to meet demand. The tariff moratorium was designed to help bridge that gap by continuing imports until domestic production expands.
“Companies are making massive investments in manufacturing facilities across the country thanks to the IRA and all this legislation serves to do is undercut American businesses as they invest billions in capital and seek to employ thousands of workers,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association.
Twelve Democrats joined 209 Republicans to pass the measure, while eight Republicans and 194 Democrats voted against it. In the Senate, it was introduced by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn) while fellow Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) have signaled their support.