The White House faced another setback to its regulatory agenda Wednesday after Senate Republicans won bipartisan support for two votes, one related to solar panels made with Chinese parts, the second dealing with endangered species protections for the lesser prairie chicken.
This comes after Republicans have succeeded in pushing legislation through Congress on a wide range of initiatives – such as ending Covid-19 national emergency and rescinding the DC crime law – occasionally using the Congressional Review Act, which allows them to repeal regulatory actions by the administration without needing 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.
While President Joe Biden will likely succeed in sustaining vetoes on these two measures, the votes on Wednesday offered a bipartisan rebuke from Congress.
The first, which passed in a 56-41 vote, would restore tariffs on solar panels made in four Southeast Asian countries using Chinese parts. Republicans argue Biden waived those tariffs in an effort to boost the use of clean energy in the United States.
“The Democrats went soft on China for the sake of their Green New Deal daydreams,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor.
Nine Democrats joined all Republicans in voting for the measure, including five up for reelection: Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana.
“You can’t say you want American manufacturing to lead the world, while allowing Chinese companies, often subsidized by the Chinese government, to skirt the rules and dump solar panels into the US,” Brown said in a floor speech Tuesday.
Manchin said he “cannot fathom” why the administration or Congress would agree to waive those tariffs.
The bill passed the GOP-controlled House last week.
The second bill, which passed in a 50-48 vote, deals with the lesser prairie chicken in the Great Plains that the US Fish and Wildlife Service recently moved to protect under the Endangered Species Act. That infuriated Republicans, like Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas, who argued efforts have already been successful to protect the bird and that these dictates from Washington will hurt the economy.
“Farmers, ranchers, and others in Kansas and the region have been instrumental in the recovery of the species to this point while the climate activists demanding this rule have no understanding of the threat it poses to Kansas’s economy, especially the energy and ag industries. With inflation for food and gas prices still high and volatile, there is no room for destabilizing federal policy like this,” he said.
Manchin was the only Democrat to vote with Republicans on the measure.
In a statement saying Biden would veto the measure, the Office of Management and Budget explained why the administration supports the new rule: “The lesser prairie-chicken serves as an indicator for healthy grasslands and prairies, making them an important measure of the overall health of America’s grasslands, a treasured and storied landscape.”
This headline and story have been updated with additional developments.
CNN’s Jack Forrest and Nicky Robertson contributed to this report.