Republican senators propose to ban the purchase of Chinese solar panels

Republican Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) speaks at the Hudson Institute. (Feb. 28, 2020)

Several Republican members of the U.S. Senate have introduced a bill that would ban the U.S. federal government from purchasing solar panels made in China.

Eight Republican senators, including Rick Scott, Marco Rubio and John Kennedy, introduced the Keep China Out of Solar Energy Act on Tuesday (March 30) that would prohibit U.S. federal funds from being used to purchase solar panels manufactured or assembled in China, particularly in Xinjiang.

The bill would require the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to establish standards and directives prohibiting the use of federal funds for the procurement of solar panels manufactured or assembled in China, and would require the Comptroller of the United States (GAO) to report to Congress on the number of solar panels purchased by federal government sector agencies from related entities, and requiring the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to conduct an independent investigation into the domestic U.S. solar panel market and the global supply chain and labor composition of solar panel production.

Senator Scott from Florida said in a statement, “No taxpayer dollars should be used to prop up the Chinese Communist Party, which at the direction of General Secretary Xi is committing genocide against the Uighurs and continues to threaten our ally Taiwan and deny Hong Kong people their basic rights. Reports indicate that many solar companies rely on materials and labor from the Xinjiang region of Communist China. The Xinjiang region is known for forced labor and horrific violations of Uyghur rights. My Keep China Out of Solar Act sends a clear message to General Secretary Xi that the United States will not ignore his genocide and human rights abuses.”

In a statement, Rubio, another senator from Florida, noted, “Beijing has made it clear that to do business in China, you have to give up American values. The Chinese Communist Party is doing its best to commit genocide against the Uighur and other Muslim minority groups while also forcing American companies to turn a blind eye to its human rights abuses such as forced labor. The Chinese Communist Party’s crimes should not be funded by American tax dollars.”

Senator Kennedy from Louisiana said in a statement, “Reports show that Beijing relies on forced labor in Xinjiang to make solar panels, as well as other products, many of which are sold to the United States. Americans should not be involved in funding Chinese Communist atrocities, and the Keep China Out of Solar Act will ensure that our federal funds do not fund the Chinese Communist Party or any of its related entities through the purchase of solar panels.”

The other five Republican senators who co-sponsored the bill are Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee, Tom Cotton from Arkansas, Shelley Moore Capito from West Virginia, Josh Josh Hawley from Missouri and John Barrasso from Wyoming.