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US House to vote on repeal of Biden solar policy

2023-04-28T11:11:07Z

Plants grow through an array of solar panels in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S., May 6, 2022. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote Friday on whether to repeal President Joe Biden’s suspension of tariffs on solar panels from four Southeast Asian nations, a move solar project builders say would stall clean energy development.

The bipartisan effort to restore tariffs on solar imports from Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam is aimed at boosting domestic solar manufacturers who say they cannot compete with cheap products made overseas, primarily by Chinese companies. Panels from the four nations, which host manufacturing facilities owned by Chinese companies, account for about 80% of U.S. supplies.

The measure was introduced by Republicans and Democrats in January under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), a law that allows Congress to reverse federal agency rules.

It is widely expected to pass in the Republican-led House, but its fate is unclear in the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats. Biden has said he would veto the legislation, which could only be overturned with a two-thirds majority of the Senate.

Proponents of the measure say the two-year suspension allows Chinese producers to avoid U.S. trade laws and prolongs an unfavorable market for domestic businesses trying to build a U.S. solar supply chain.

Top clean energy trade groups have called on members of Congress to oppose the measure. The Solar Energy Industries Association projected that its passage would result in cancellation of 14% of the industry’s planned new capacity this year and the loss of $4.2 billion in investment.

Biden last year waived tariffs on solar products from the four nations as the Commerce Department was considering whether those imports were dodging duties on goods made in China and violating U.S. law.

Months later, the department issued a preliminary decision to impose tariffs on solar products Chinese companies make in those countries, that match current tariffs on goods they make in China. The agency is expected to issue its final decision next week.