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Bipartisan Bill Would End Biden’s ‘Unacceptable’ Move To Block Tariffs On Chinese Solar Imports

The House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday advanced legislation that would impose heavy tariffs on the solar imports, with some Democratic support.

The proposed legislation — which passed the committee 26-13, with support from Democratic Rep. Terri Sawell of Alabama and absences from Democratic Reps. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey and Dan Kildee of Michigan — would strike down an existing Biden administration moratorium on solar tariffs to four Southeast Asian countries, potentially leading to some import duties as high as 254%, Bloomberg reported. The resolution would reinstate tariffs on Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, which a Commerce Department investigation found in December were being used by some Chinese solar firms to circumvent U.S. trade barriers, Chairman Jason Smith wrote in a press release following the vote.

“The Biden administration found in its own investigation that China is evading U.S. tariffs on solar imports, but has paused action on this matter, which is unacceptable,” Kildee said in a January statement regarding the proposed legislation. “This bipartisan legislation, supported by Democrats and Republicans, will repeal this misguided rule to enforce U.S. trade law as Congress intended and help America’s domestic solar manufacturing industry grow to meet our nation’s energy needs.”

The legislation could face a full House vote next week, and while Biden is expected to veto the proposal if it passes the Senate, early Democratic support for the legislation could potentially signal Congress’ ability to override him, Bloomberg reported.

“The Committee’s action today was an important step to ensure the United States maintains crucial protections for American workers and our economy as a whole,” said Smith, in a prepared statement. “Concern for China’s behavior is shared by members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. Congress must act to hold accountable bad actors in global trade and, in particular, Chinese wrongdoing.”

The U.S. government has been cracking down on Chinese solar panels via the Uyghur Forced Labor Production Act (UFPLA), with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) detaining $806 million worth of Chinese solar panels between October 2022 and January 2023. Democratic Chair Ron Wyden of the Senate Finance Committee in December launched a probe into eight major U.S. automakers, over the allegedly “rampant” use of Uyghur forced labor in their Chinese supply lines.

The move drew criticism from solar advocates, who argued that the legislation would stall out solar manufacturing, according to Bloomberg. The affected nations account for roughly 80% of all U.S. solar panels.

“The Ways and Means Committee just took a hammer to business certainty and American energy independence,” said SEIA president and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper in a statement. “This use of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) is in direct conflict with the bipartisan goal of growing America’s domestic solar manufacturing industry. In fact, analysis shows that forcing American companies to pay $1 billion in retroactive duties would eliminate 30,000 good-paying jobs, including 4,000 manufacturing jobs.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment.

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