The House approved a measure Friday morning to halt President Joe Biden’s moratorium on tariffs applied to solar panels from multiple Southeast Asian countries.
Critics have long charged that Chinese firms that implement slave labor use these facilities to assemble their products and work around the tariffs.
Twelve Democrats joined nearly every House Republican in supporting the resolution, which passed 221 to 202. Proponents argued that the move was critical to buttress the domestic solar panel industry and punish China for attempting to skirt the tariffs.
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES VOTES TO REPEAL BIDEN SUSPENSION OF TARIFFS ON SOLAR PANELS FROM FOUR SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
— First Squawk (@FirstSquawk) April 28, 2023
The measure now advances to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it faces an uncertain future. Several Democratic senators support the House measure, making it likely that it will reach the president’s desk.
If it were to clear the upper chamber, the White House has already promised a veto.
Biden last year issued a two-year halt on tariffs for solar energy products imported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. These four countries produce about 80% of solar panels sold in the U.S.
Of major concern is the presence of manufacturing facilities in these Southeast Asian countries owned by Chinese entities.
Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) released a statement lauding the vote that holds “China accountable for violating our trade laws and scores a big win for American solar manufacturers and workers.”
It was last year when Biden’s Commerce Department was investigating whether Chinese firms used the four nations to work around duties on Chinese products in violation of U.S. law. But Biden stepped in and paved the way for the practice to continue.
Still, the Commerce Department proceeded to issue a preliminary decision months later to impose tariffs on those products manufactured in those countries by Chinese companies equal to those made in China. That move has yet to be finalized.
Part of the U.S. opposition to Chinese solar panels was expressed in the Uyghur Forced Labor Production Act. This law worked to punish Chinese companies utilizing forced labor from Uyghur Muslims, an oppressed ethnic minority in the nation’s western regions.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized roughly 2,600 solar energy products sent from China from Oct. 2022 to Jan. 2023 under the act. The seizures were valued at over $800 million.