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Two workers install solar panels on a home in Oak View, California on August 23, 2011.

Two workers install solar panels on a home in Oak View, California on August 23, 2011. (Photo: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

House Progressives Cheer Biden Solar Order But Say 'Executive Action Alone' Not Enough

"The president's leadership cannot substitute for lack of congressional action," warned the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Brett Wilkins

Progressive U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday joined climate campaigners in welcoming President Joe Biden's executive order invoking the Defense Production Act to accelerate domestic solar panel production while calling on Congress to pass legislation to facilitate the nation's transition into a post-fossil fuel era.

"There is simply no way to meet the president's climate goals with executive action alone."

As Common Dreams reported, Biden's executive order—which followed sustained grassroots pressure—includes a two-year freeze on solar panel and other clean energy component tariffs, and puts the "full power of federal procurement to work spurring additional domestic solar manufacturing capacity by directing the development of master supply agreements."

In a statement, Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said that "we applaud President Biden for taking a critically necessary step by embracing his administrative authorities and invoking the Defense Production Act, ensuring Americans have a reliable supply of electricity in the face of supply chain stocks and rising global fuel prices, while addressing the national security concerns that climate change poses."

The Defense Production Act (DPA) is the primary source of presidential authority to expedite and expand the supply of materials and services from the U.S. industrial base for national security purposes.

"This action is a key component of our Progressive Caucus Executive Action Agenda to mobilize domestic industry to manufacture affordable renewable energy," Jayapal added. "Crucially, it will also allow us to export green, cutting-edge manufacturing to reduce emissions abroad, while decreasing our reliance on foreign oil and autocratic human rights abusers, like Russia and Saudi Arabia, that produce it."

Japayal continued:

We're particularly gratified to see the president's plan to pursue the DPA implementation with a justice-oriented mindset, working toward strong labor protections, union membership, and high wages for the new jobs created. In particular, the administration has met a key goal of progressives in Congress and the environmental justice movement to prioritize communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis [that] have been devastated by pollution.

"The president's leadership cannot substitute for lack of congressional action," warned Jayapal. "There is simply no way to meet the president's climate goals with executive action alone."

"As the people's representatives, we have a moral and governing obligation to fight the climate crisis and pass legislation that will facilitate our transition away from fossil fuels and support frontline communities," she asserted.

"The House has already passed a broad set of climate investments in a reconciliation bill, and there is broad agreement among Democrats in both chambers on using reconciliation to make these investments," Jayapal added. "We will continue to push to make that bill law."

In recent months, House Democrats have urged Biden to revive the stalled Build Back Better reconciliation package, a watered-down version of which was scuppered last December by Senate Republicans and right-wing Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

CPC member Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) also praised Biden, while calling on her congressional colleagues to pass her Energy Security and Independence Act, which would invest $100 billion in "reinvigorating the domestic clean energy industrial base" through the DPA.

Bush said that if passed, the legislation would "lower energy prices, create jobs, and fight the climate crisis."

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