© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Solar installers from Baker Electric install solar panels on the roof of a residential home in Scripps Ranch, San Diego, California, U.S., October 14, 2016. Picture taken October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
By Nichola Groom
(Reuters) – A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers will introduce a resolution on Thursday to lift President Joe Biden’s suspension of import tariffs on solar panels from four Southeast Asian countries, according to a statement provided to Reuters.
The Congressional Review Act (CRA), which allows Congress to overturn federal rules with a simple majority, is aimed at propping up domestic solar manufacturers, which have struggled with competition from cheap panels made overseas – often by Chinese companies.
“We cannot allow foreign solar manufacturers to violate trade law, especially when it harms American workers and businesses,” Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Michigan, said in a statement.
Kildee represents the CRA with three Republicans – Bill Posey of Florida, Garret Graves of Louisiana and Bob Latt of Ohio, as well as two other Democrats – Bill Pascrell of New Jersey and Terri Sewell of Alabama.
The CRA is a 1996 law that allows Congress to overturn federal rules with a simple majority. The CRA Act expires if it is not enacted within 60 days of its introduction and prevents the federal government from issuing a rule that is “substantially the same form” in the future.
Repealing the policy would be a blow to the US solar industry, which has argued that tariffs on panels from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam would freeze the development of clean energy projects needed to meet Biden’s ambitious climate change goals.
Four countries account for about 80% of US panel supply.
Addressing those concerns, Biden last year lifted tariffs on solar products from four Southeast Asian countries while the Commerce Department looked into whether those imports were circumventing tariffs on Chinese-made goods and violating US trade law.
Months later, Commerce made a preliminary decision to impose new tariffs on some imports from those countries, but they won’t begin until June 2024 because of a two-year waiver from Biden.
The White House said the tariff exemption would serve as a bridge as the U.S. sector grows. Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, passed last year, includes major incentives for domestic production of clean energy products.