Rosen urging Senate Democrats to oppose solar tariff resolution
Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) is leading efforts to persuade Senate Democrats against backing a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution restoring tariffs on solar panel components, a source familiar confirmed to The Hill.
In a memo circulated to other Democratic senators, Rosen urged them to oppose the measure, introduced Feb. 16 by eight Republican senators. The CRA allows a simple majority in both chambers of Congress to block a rule implemented by the executive branch. This particular resolution would overrule a two-year suspension of tariffs on imported solar panels.
In the memo, shared with The Hill, Rosen said the resolution would severely disrupt U.S. goals on clean energy implementation, noting that U.S. solar manufacturing can only currently meet about 15 percent of demand. Rosen estimated the resolution, if passed, could cost up to 30,000 jobs in the U.S.
“President Biden’s two-year pause was a prudent compromise to allow a transition period to ramp up U.S. manufacturing while temporarily maintaining access to the only market that can currently support the needs of an industry that represents over 250,000 jobs in the U.S. – 90% of which are non-manufacturing – and one which is key to our climate future,” she wrote.
Rosen’s efforts to persuade her colleagues against the resolution in a closed-door meeting were previously reported by Axios.
The Senate version of the resolution has entirely Republican co-sponsors — Sens. Rick Scott (Fla.), J.D. Vance (Ohio), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Lisa Murkowski (Ak.), Tom Cotton (Ark.) and Kevin Cramer (N.D.). However, the House version is co-sponsored by Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), and the Senate has already passed another CRA resolution with two Democratic defections. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Jon Tester (D-Mt.) both voted for the resolution, and in this case Democrats could face third and fourth defections from Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.), who have previously urged Biden to end the suspension.
In a statement to The Hill, Brown’s office did not confirm or deny he would vote for the resolution, saying “Sen. Brown is working with the Ohio solar industry and the workers they employ to find a path forward on how best to protect American solar manufacturers from unfairly traded Chinese imports, and he will consult with Ohioans on any vote that comes before the Senate that affects their industry and their jobs.”
The Hill has reached out to Casey’s office.
Biden has already vowed to veto the earlier resolution, which would undo a Labor Department rule allowing money managers to weigh climate change in investment decisions.
The Hill has reached out to the White House to clarify whether Biden would veto the solar tariff resolution.
The solar industry and its allies in the Senate have separately been vocal opponents of a Commerce Department investigation, launched last year, into whether southeast Asian panel manufacturers illegally circumvented tariffs on Chinese companies. In December, the department announced a finding that four of the companies — BYD Hong Kong, Canadian Solar, Vina Solar and Trina — engaged in illegal circumvention.
The industry, meanwhile, has said even the two-year delay could be devastating to the industry.
“While President Biden was wise to provide a two-year window before the tariff implementation, that window is quickly closing, and two years is simply not enough time to establish manufacturing supply chains that will meet U.S. solar demand,” Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said in December.
This story was updated at 3:53 p.m.
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