Scott's solar crusade
Rick Scott is reintroducing a bill to ban the federal government from buying solar panels made in China.
Why it matters: It’s another China pressure point for the GOP and part of a larger fight over solar’s future that crosses partisan lines.
- The government is already subject to various buy-American requirements, but the bill would be more explicit.
Driving the news: Scott’s office gave Axios an exclusive advance look at the legislation.
- It would prohibit the government from procuring “solar panels manufactured or assembled by any entity located in, or subject to the influence or control of, Communist China,” per a summary from his office.
- It would also apply to federal grants.
- Josh Hawley, Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton — some of the Senate's biggest China hawks — are cosponsors.
- "We must work to fully decouple our supply chains and end our reliance on products from Communist China. That's the only way to truly build American independence and self-sufficiency," Scott said in a statement.
Context: Scott is also the lead Senate sponsor on a bipartisan resolution to repeal President Biden’s pause on solar tariffs for four Southeast Asian countries.
- That Congressional Review Act push is creating some strange political bedfellows, as we wrote this week.
The other side: The solar industry says it needs a grace period to onshore more panel manufacturing using incentives from the IRA.
- Currently, China controls the lion’s share of the solar supply chain, and installers in the U.S. rely heavily on cheaply made foreign panels.
- Scott’s bill isn’t likely to become law, but it’s notable in the political back-and-forth over protectionism and domestic manufacturing.