When four Chinese solar companies were caught evading U.S. tariffs by moving their products through other southeastern countries in December, the punishment was clear: Pay even higher duty rates to sell their wares in America.
But President Joe Biden wants those Chinese solar cells, which are cheaper than their Made-in-America counterparts, in the U.S. supply chain to help boost his domestic green-energy policies. He wants to lift the sanctions on these Chinese Communist Party-linked companies, and he has got four loyal allies in the fight.
Maggie Hassan, Annie Kuster, Chris Pappas and Jeanne Shaheen.
The entire Granite State federal delegation voted against bipartisan bills blocking Biden’s plan to allow these Chinese-made products into the U.S. tariff-free. They failed, as the bills passed in both the House and Senate, though it is almost certain to be vetoed by Biden.
“This vote was a simple choice: Do you stand with American manufacturers and American workers, or do you stand with China?” Ohio Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown said after the bill passed the Senate in a 56-41 vote Wednesday night. “Now we are sending a clear message that we must level the playing field for workers and manufacturers in Ohio and across the country.”
Nine Democrats crossed the aisle to join every Republican except libertarian Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in opposing the pro-China policy.
The math was similar in the House last Friday when Reps. Kuster and Pappas were on the losing side of a 221-202 vote to impose tariffs on the Chinese companies. Twelve of their fellow Democrats voted with the GOP majority.
“This is about protecting American workers, American jobs, and holding China accountable,” said Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), House Ways and Means Committee chair. “The Chinese Communist Party’s unfair trade practices cannot go unchecked, including illegal circumvention of U.S. trade law.”
None of the New Hampshire legislators would answer NHJournal’s questions about their votes or why they support allowing these Chinese companies caught cheating to continue doing business in the U.S. without sanctions.
Supporters of the Biden policy argue their green energy goals cannot be met without Chinese-made green tech, particularly in the area of solar energy. In an open letter defending the Biden approach, Nevada Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen says American domestic solar production “can only meet about 15 percent of demand. As we work to bolster our manufacturing capabilities here at home, we must temporarily rely on these imported panels to satisfy our domestic demand and support American solar jobs.
“These imported panels and cells are central components for nearly all solar installations,” Rosen conceded.
Critics say that confirms their argument that much of the massive $400 billion in green energy spending passed by Biden and congressional Democrats will go to China, bolstering the economy of the Communist regime. Some Chinese businesses have used forced labor in their factories, another area of concern.
“If you vote no, that means you support slave labor,” said Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.). “You don’t want more American jobs, and you don’t believe our trade policies mean anything.”
The position of Biden and his Democratic allies isn’t a popular one. A Morning Consult poll taken last year found 70 percent of Americans supported tariffs on Chinese imports, and an additional 61 percent said increased imports has led the United States to become too dependent on China for critical goods in the supply chain.
The decision of New Hampshire’s four Democrats to side with Biden yet again raises questions about their commitment to defending the Granite State’s First in the Nation primary. After Biden pushed calendar changes through the Democratic National Committee, stripping New Hampshire of its place at the front of the primary line, there was speculation that Hassan and Shaheen might use their vital votes in the closely-split Senate to pressure the president to change his mind or the punish him for endangering the primary.
But other than declining to attend a White House party in the immediate aftermath of the DNC vote, the four New Hampshire Democrats have overwhelmingly supported Biden and his legislative agenda.
It appears New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley was right. Asked by Politico if Hassan or Shaheen might play hardball with the president on behalf of the New Hampshire primary, Buckley said, “If any one of the four members of our congressional delegation did something, it would be so out of character that I would probably be the most astonished person on Earth.”