(Bloomberg) -- A House vote to reinstate solar tariffs as high as 254% on panel imports from Southeast Asia fell short of the super-majority needed to overcome a veto threat from the White House.
The 221-202 vote on the measure, which would undo a two-year moratorium on the duties put in place by President Joe Biden, indicates developers are likely safe from duties that they said would paralyze their industry. Twelve Democrats joined the vote to reinstate tariffs.
“The failure to approach the 290 votes needed to override a veto is a strong confirmation of our view that the President’s declaration will not be overturned,” Height Securities LLC said in a note to clients Friday. “The narrow margin is likely to discourage Senate Democrats from endorsing the effort and the Senate may even be able to avoid a vote.”
The Biden administration is racing to boost domestically made cleantech supplies, while also contending with the nation’s reliance on imported panels. Biden suspended new duties on the affected solar panels through June 2024 to give the industry more time to ramp up domestic solar manufacturing.
A spokesman for Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott, who has authored the Senate version of the legislation, vowed Friday it would get a vote. The bill gained some momentum earlier this week after West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin signed onto the bill.
The development comes amid increasing anti-China sentiment on Capitol Hill and gives the GOP, and others, a chance to paint Democrats as soft on China.
“We applaud both Democrats and Republicans in the House for supporting the Solar CRA and American manufacturers, it’s disappointing to see so many House Democrats turn a blind eye to China’s illegal, predatory trade abuses,” said Nick Iacovella, a senior vice president for the Coalition for a Prosperous America, a domestic manufacturing advocacy group that supports the effort.
A successful effort by Republicans would re-instate duties placed on solar imports from four Asian nations — Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam — that supply roughly 80% of US panels after the Commerce Department found some Chinese solar manufacturers were evading decade-old import duties. It would also subject the US solar industry to retroactive tariffs estimated to be more than $1 billion.
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