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12 Democrats join Republicans to oppose Biden deal with China

 April 29, 2023

In a show of bipartisan support, twelve House Democrats joined Republicans to vote to repeal a Biden administration rule that had exempted Chinese-made solar panels from tariffs.

The resolution aims to protect American solar panel manufacturers and domestic production of critical minerals, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Repealing Tariff Exemptions on Solar Panels

Last year, President Biden announced a two-year tariff ban for solar panels and components originating from China but imported through Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam. This was aimed at bolstering the United States' mining operations for critical minerals found in solar panels.

However, Chinese companies have exploited this rule by funneling their products through these Southeast Asian nations, which currently produce 80% of the solar panels used in US projects.

The resolution passed the House on a 221 to 202, with twelve Democrats joining the majority of Republicans in favor of the bill, while eight Republicans opposed the resolution.

Rep. Dan Kildee of Michigan, the lead Democratic author of the measure, emphasized the nonpartisan nature of this issue.

In a recent statement, Kildee said, "We cannot allow foreign solar manufacturers to violate trade laws, especially when it comes at the expense of American workers and businesses. By suspending tariffs on those who violate our trade laws, we are undermining our own American manufacturers and workers."

Lawmakers in both the House and Senate have brought forward resolutions to overturn the Biden administration’s tariff policy. Supporters of these resolutions argue that the policy makes the U.S. energy industry less competitive and incentivizes Chinese firms to route their products through other countries to avoid U.S. tariffs.

However, President Biden has already announced his intent to veto the legislation if it reaches his desk, marking the third veto of his presidency.

Utilizing the Congressional Review Act

The measure was introduced under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which allows Congress to reverse federal agency rules. In order to pass under the CRA, the measure needs to be brought for a vote and requires only a simple majority in the Senate.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) supports a Senate version of the CRA resolution to overturn the Biden tariff policy, stating, "The United States relies on foreign nations, like China, for far too many of our energy needs, and failing to enforce our existing trade laws undermines the goals of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act to onshore our energy supply chains, including solar."

Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have also signaled their support for the Republican-led Senate resolution.

Implications for US-China Relations

The bipartisan effort to repeal the tariff exemption comes amidst escalating tensions between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. By addressing the loophole that allows Chinese solar energy manufacturers to avoid tariffs, the resolution aims to protect American interests and promote domestic production.

The eight Republicans who voted against the resolution, five of whom are from New York, have not yet provided their reasons for opposition. However, the overall support for the measure from both Democrats and Republicans indicates a strong desire to prioritize American workers and businesses in the face of unfair trade practices.

Protecting Economic Interests

As the resolution moves to the Senate, its likely passage could further strain the already tense relationship between the US and China. The potential veto from President Biden, however, may serve as a point of contention within his own party, as some Democrats have joined Republicans in supporting the measure.

Ultimately, the bipartisan effort to repeal the tariff exemption on Chinese solar panels reflects the growing concerns among lawmakers about the negative impact of such exemptions on American businesses and workers.

By closing the loophole, the United States can strengthen its domestic solar panel manufacturing industry and protect its economic interests in the face of foreign competition.