House Votes to Undo Solar Moratorium
WASHINGTON — The House voted 221-202 on Friday to overturn President Joe Biden’s two-year moratorium on imposing new tariffs on solar panels and related equipment from four Southeast Asian countries suspected of illicitly working to allow Chinese companies to skirt import rules.
As was evident from the vote, there are both Republicans and Democrats who want tighter controls on Chinese imports of solar and other renewable energy-related technologies, but the issue is not strictly partisan.
In the end, 12 Democrats joined the 209 Republicans who voted in favor of the Congressional Review Act resolution on Friday, while eight Republicans voted against it.
However, the position of the majority puts them at odds with those in the renewable energy sector, who argue such prohibitions — put in place at a time when the U.S. is still ramping up its manufacturing capability — will stymie the nation’s efforts to minimize the adverse impacts of climate change.
The White House has already said President Biden intends to veto the resolution if it reaches his desk, and the outcome of Friday’s vote suggests that veto will stand.
The president issued his moratorium last June at a time when the Commerce Department was investigating whether companies in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam were helping China circumvent existing tariffs by funneling solar cells and modules through their facilities.
In a preliminary report released in December, the Commerce Department said eight solar companies working in the four countries did in fact appear to be helping China get around U.S. tariffs by importing Chinese goods into their countries and doing minor processing on them before they are sent on to the United States. A final report is expected later this year.
The Senate is expected to take up the resolution later this week or early next week.
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