Biden Vetoes Legislation to Block Solar Module Import Tariff Waivers

Only a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and the House can override the veto


United States President Joe Biden has vetoed a resolution that would halt a Commerce Department rule temporarily suspending tariffs on solar modules imported from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The result of Biden’s veto is that a two-year delay on tariffs will continue until at least June 2024.

The presidential veto can, however, be overridden by a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and the House.

The bipartisan resolution was cleared in the Senate earlier this month, with nine Democrats joining the Republicans to support its passage.

Soon after, the White House said the President would veto the move to overturn his decision to waive solar import tariffs for the four Southeast Asian nations.

The four countries together account for most of the modules used in the U.S.

Last year, the White House utilized the Defense Production Act to waive tariffs on solar panel imports from certain countries temporarily. This exemption was implemented for two years to promote the advancement of clean energy in the U.S.

The intention was to ensure that the domestic solar industry had an adequate supply of essential components, supporting the fight against climate change.

Industry groups in the U.S. had criticized the investigation contending that the pipeline projects in the country would be impacted adversely, as domestic manufacturing capacity was not in a position to cater to the increasing demand.

Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, welcomed the veto. She said Biden’s move had prevented a bill from becoming law that would have eliminated 30,000 American jobs, including 4,000 solar manufacturing jobs.

“The Commerce Department’s solar tariff case effectively shut down the solar industry last spring, and the short-term tariff pause was strategically implemented to both allow project development to continue and create a bridge to a domestic manufacturing future. This strategy could not have come at a better time as the U.S. is experiencing an avalanche of solar manufacturing investment across the country thanks to the historic Inflation Reduction Act,” she said.

Last December, the Commerce Department clarified the scope of the anti-circumvention investigation, saying that it would allow the import of solar modules assembled in non-Southeast Asian countries using solar cells manufactured in Southeast Asian countries.