Senate Republicans introduced legislation Tuesday, calling for a ban on all China-made solar panels, as President Biden prepares to introduce a $3 trillion infrastructure plan that is expected to incorporate green policies.
Though the hefty package is likely to be a cornerstone agenda in the Biden administration, the White House has said it will be looking for Republican support.
But Republicans have submitted proposals before the president has even laid out his plan, attempting to ensure federal funds cannot be used to purchase solar panels or related equipment from the world’s leading producer – China.
"Reports show that many solar companies rely on materials and labor from Communist China’s Xinjiang province, which is known for forced labor and horrific abuse of the Uighurs," Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said in a statement Tuesday.
Seven of the world’s top 10 solar panel producers are in China, reported EnergySage, a U.S.-based energy company.
Scott was joined by GOP Senators Marco Rubio, Marsha Blackburn, John Kennedy, Tom Cotton, Shelley Moore Capito, Josh Hawley and John Barrasso in putting forward legislation to ban Chinese imports on solar panels, citing concerns over reported human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
"The Xinjiang province of China is a major producer of the world’s solar grade polysilicon," Caputo said in a statement before calling for an investigation into forced labor in solar panel manufacturing.
"As the demand for clean energy initiatives is growing, the federal government cannot support entities that benefit from these atrocities, especially while many have lost their jobs domestically as a result of these new energy initiatives," she added.
The White House has said the president’s "Build Back Better" plan will not be considered an emergency bill, which means Biden’s legislation on manufacturing, climate change and infrastructure investments will require GOP support to get through Congress.
"We certainly expect to have the discussion with members of Congress, as we move forward, about areas where they agree, where they disagree, where they would like to see greater emphasis or not," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday.
The group of GOP senators has also called on the Office of Management and Budget to track the production of solar panels in the U.S. to measure supply chains and the marketplace as countries across the globe race to invest in solar panel development.