Democratic crack emerged over Biden administration’s China investigation


A split among Democrats has emerged over the Biden administration’s investigation into whether China is breaking US tariffs on solar panels, which critics say are crippling the clean energy industry.

The Department of Commerce is determining if the xenophobe is funneling critical solar panel components through neighboring countries to illegally bypass U.S. taxes.

However, a new coalition of Democrats has emerged supporting the investigation, highlighting the split in the party. They urge the Biden administration to bow to “overwhelming private interest political pressure” and not allow Beijing to cheat tariffs that could harm American manufacturing.

“To underscore and reiterate this point: these laws are designed to ensure that American manufacturers and producers can compete on a level playing field, free from unfair trade practices,” Democrats who support the investigation wrote in a letter to President Biden on Thursday. “It’s troubling that corporate lobbying against a simple investigation would reach this level of mass hysteria if there weren’t any concerns about what career officers at the DOC might uncover.”

Among these Democrats is Sens from Ohio. Sherrod Brown and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania; Representatives Marcy Kaptur and Tim Ryan of Ohio; Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania; and Terri Sewell of Alabama.

According to the American Clean Power Association, about 80% of imported solar panels come from four countries that have allegedly helped China avoid tariffs: Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Critics say the Commerce Department investigation is putting the solar industry in jeopardy. According to a recent business survey from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), it has delayed or canceled more than 500 projects – both on a small and public scale – and is putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk due to halted imports.

Praising the investigation, Democrats acknowledged that it affects the same clean energy they promote to tackle climate change. However, they argued that it was necessary to protect long-term American interests and businesses.

“Ultimately, short-term supply disruptions in the solar supply chain are not a reason to abandon the trading practice,” the letter said. “In fact, these short-term disruptions will almost certainly become long-term problems if trade sanctions are waived.”

Democrats have also targeted SEIA, which has been at the forefront of lobbying against the tariff investigation. They argued that because SEIA represented several Chinese manufacturers, the organization had a commercial interest in closing the investigation.

In a statement, SEIA President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper lauded those who praised the investigation and said that the accusations that SEIA was under Chinese influence were “absurd and absolutely false, and those who suggest otherwise are fundamentally dishonest.”

“What we’re trying to do is put an end to a worthless trade lawsuit that is stalling the fight against climate change and wasting tens of billions of dollars in American clean energy investment,” Ms Hopper said. “This lawsuit has brought the U.S. solar industry to a sharp standstill, halting critical clean energy development and, ironically, cutting off supply for domestic producers.”

SEIA’s arguments and concerns were echoed by legislators from both sides of the aisle.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo was questioned by senators during a congressional hearing earlier this month. She defended the agency’s role by arguing that her hands were essentially tied because current laws mandated research. Ms. Raimondo also rejected pressure from members of Congress to expedite the investigation and intervene.

His statement did little to appease the concerns of lawmakers. Democratic opponents continued their public and vocal campaign against the administration’s investigation.

Democratic Sensitive Jacky Rosen and Nevada’s Catherine Cortez Masto, Delaware’s Tom Carper, Colorado’s Michael Bennet and New Mexico’s Martin Heinrich asked the DOC to “end the job homicide investigation” as Ms Rosen said earlier this week. demanded.

More than a dozen House Democrats also sought to ramp up the pressure, summarizing their “serious concern over devastating economic and environmental impacts” in a letter to Mr. Biden.

The political firestorm that erupted was the result of Auxin Solar, a small California solar panel manufacturer. He triggered the investigation earlier this year with a petition outlining possible Chinese abuses.

Industry and lawmakers directed their frustrations directly at Auxin, prompting CEO Mamun Rashid to respond to critics who recently questioned how one company could bring the entire industry to a screeching halt.

Mr. Rashid told The Manufacturing Report, a manufacturing industry podcast, that government officials’ rhetoric towards his company and the investigation was “irresponsible” and “a disgrace to the offices they occupy”.

“We have zero fear of competition. I will compete with other manufacturers all day. I welcome other manufacturers to be online in the US, as long as this is an even playing field, we will compete all day long,” he said. “And if we lose, it’s our responsibility. We can compete, that’s all we’re saying, it just needs to be played on equal terms.”


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