What’s Happening on Capitol Hill Thursday?
May 4, 2023

May 4, 2023 by TWN Staff
What’s Happening on Capitol Hill Thursday?
U.S. Capitol (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday evening voted 56 to 41 to end the Biden administration’s two-year pause on tariffs for imports of solar panels and related equipment from four Southeast Asian countries.

The vote sends the resolution, known as the Congressional Review Act, to President Joe Biden’s desk, where it is sure to be vetoed.

Among those criticizing the Senate action last night was Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, who said the Senate’s approval of reversing the moratorium, “poses a threat to the American economy and the clean energy transition.”

“The bill seeks to impose retroactive duties that will bring a halt to the booming solar growth in the U.S. and undermine the administration’s climate objectives,” he added.

Nine Democrats joined Republicans to vote to rescind the moratorium. 

They were Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Bob Casey, D-Pa., John Fetterman, D-Pa., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Gary Peters, D-Mich., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

While the vote was a rare show of bipartisanship in opposition to an administration policy, you can expect that spirit of bipartisanship to collapse when the Senate Budget Committee convenes for a hearing the chamber’s Democratic leadership has titled “The Default on America Act: Blackmail, Brinkmanship, and Billionaire Backroom Deals.” 

The focus of the hearing is the “Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023,” which House Republicans insist is the only path to a compromise agreement to raise the debt ceiling before the United States defaults on its financial obligations.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said the bill is “dead on arrival” in the Senate, and has joined Biden in calling for the passage of a so-called “clean” debt ceiling bill.

Among those testifying at today’s hearings are Dr. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, Fred Krupp, president at the Environmental Defense Fund, Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of Solar Energy Industries Association, Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, and Dr. Jason Fichtner, vice president and chief economist at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

With the House continuing to observe a district work period, the remaining action on the Hill today will also be on the Senate side of the Capitol.

The chamber will vote on cloture on the nominations of LaShonda Hunt to be a U.S. District judge for the Northern District of Illinois; Colleen Joy Shogan, to be archivist of the United States; and Geeta Rao Gupta to be ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Issues.

Also Wednesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on “worldwide threats,” with Avril Haines, director of National Intelligence, set to testify.

Finally, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, will hold a press conference on the Senate triangle outside the Capitol this morning to make an announcement about the federal minimum wage.

Sanders will be joined by workers, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry and Economic Policy Institute President Heidi Shierholz.

“Congress can no longer ignore the needs of the working class of this country,” Sanders wrote in a recent op-ed in The Guardian. “At a time of massive and growing income and wealth inequality and record-breaking corporate profits, we must stand up for working families — many of whom are struggling every day to provide a minimal standard of living for their families.”

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