The Calendar

Floor Speech

Date: May 3, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SCOTT of Florida. Madam President, I want to take a moment to address some of what we have heard here on the Senate floor today.

There have been a lot of accusations made about what this CRA does, and I will clear that up in a minute, but first I would like to set the record straight on what this measure does not do.

My colleagues often talk about their work to protect human rights. I would ask this simple question: What could possibly be a greater threat to human rights than the United States of America's turning a blind eye to child slave labor? What message does it send to the world?

We have heard today that this measure will force American companies to pay for these tariffs. Not true. What this measure does do is rightfully punish foreign companies that are actively working to get around U.S. trade law and help import product made with slave and child labor into the United States. The only entities that will pay tariffs are Chinese-affiliated manufacturers.

If you are doing the right thing, this measure doesn't change a darned thing about how you do business, but if you are working with people who believe slavery has a role in supply chains, you are darned right I have a problem with that and will do whatever I can to stop it.

I have also heard today that the rule that this CRA would eliminate was negotiated by the solar panel industry. We have heard that the solar panel industry agrees we need this exemption and therefore it is good. Of course, the solar panel industry that supports the rule is the Chinese solar panel industry. American manufacturers do not.

Thanks to the Biden administration's waiver that we are working to repeal here today, Chinese companies have been given everything they need to dominate the solar market, just like how Russia has dominated cheap gas supply to Europe.

I have also heard some of my colleagues say that this CRA is unnecessary because we have already passed a law that says products made with slave labor cannot be sold in the United States. We did pass a good bill that prevents products made with slave labor from being sold here, and I thank God we did that. But since when has U.S. law meant anything to communist China?

We know companies controlled by the CCP lie, cheat, and steal. We know that companies in communist China are moving solar panels made with slave and child labor to other countries to circumvent our laws, and they aren't being caught.

President Biden's own Commerce Department has proven that to be true. When half the world's solar panels are coming from a region with well- documented child and slave labor, are we really expected to believe that the companies making these panels aren't using slave labor? No, we know that is not reality.

Finally, I have heard the claim that this CRA would somehow be terrible for American jobs. This one actually surprised me. Here is how that logic goes: Letting communist China dominate a market by using slave and child labor is better than supporting American manufacturing and American jobs here at home. Let me know if you can figure that one out, see how that makes sense.

Some of my colleagues on the left claim that 30,000 jobs will be lost. That is not even close to being true. Guess who gave them that information? The Chinese-dominated solar lobby group. That is the same group that is perfectly happy to keep things the way they are so they can make a buck on the back of slave and child labor.

When I went to look at this report today, I couldn't find it. It is not on their website. This is what you get when you try to look at their so-called analysis: ``Sorry, we couldn't find that page.''

Honestly, I think our colleague from Pennsylvania got it exactly right when he told a news outlet this week:

Too often, China gets away with undermining our markets, undermining our companies, and every time they cheat, we lose jobs in Pennsylvania.

Senator Casey is right. It is not just true in Pennsylvania; it is true in every State across our great country.

Senator Wyden is right too. Discussing the same issue, he said:

Red, white and blue manufacturing, particularly now, when people see we're serious about it, that's the key time in this two year window when the Chinese can hit us.

To be honest, I am shocked by excuses from some of my colleagues. I note that it is only some because this CRA is actually a bipartisan bill.

The excuses for inaction by some on the left don't make sense to me. What we are talking about tonight is whether anything is worth turning a blind eye to slavery and child labor.

The Chinese-dominated industry has agreed that this waiver is a good thing. What a shocker. What some of my colleagues on the left are saying is that the endorsement of Chinese manufacturers is enough to turn a blind eye to slave and child labor. I clearly disagree.

With this rule repealed by this CRA, tariffs first put in place by President Obama's Commerce Department to hold Chinese manufacturers that violate our trade laws accountable will be reinstated, forcing companies to work with only those partners that aren't actively involved in slave and child labor. To that, I say what a good thing for the Senate to put it behind us and to support it.

President Xi is a dictator and human rights violator. He is yet another communist leader trying to be the dominant world player. The Chinese Communist Party has stripped the people of Hong Kong of their freedoms. They have cracked down on dissidents, militarized the South China Sea, threatened Taiwan and surveilled its citizens, and committed a genocide against the Uighurs simply because of their religion.

We know the Chinese Communist Party will do anything to destroy America. The national security threat of communist China cannot be taken lightly, and the human rights abuses against the Uighurs, including slave labor, child labor, and genocide cannot be ignored. The United States cannot tolerate communist China's horrific human rights abuses and genocide of Uighurs.

In addition to this, communist China will stop at nothing to exploit American markets and take advantage of U.S. investors and companies doing business within its country. Communist China poses a clear and present threat to the United States and the world.

In 2022, the Department of Commerce caught communist China circumventing U.S. trade laws. To avoid American tariffs, Xi's regime started sending Chinese-made solar products made with slave labor to Southeast Asian countries, claiming they are made in the corresponding nation.

Here is what they are doing. It was made here. They shipped them down here and said they were made here and shipped them here so they didn't have to pay their tariffs.

These Chinese-made products--again, made with slave and child labor, and you can see, there are not a lot of pictures that come out of this area, but these are some of the Uighurs, and they are clearly being put to work to do whatever the Communist Party wants them to do.

These Chinese-made products--again, made with child and slave labor-- were then imported into the United States.

Despite his own Department of Commerce investigation, President Biden issued an emergency declaration exempting these Chinese-made solar products--again, made with slave and child labor--from our trade law for a full 2 years.

President Biden's solar emergency declaration is a giveaway to President Xi and the Chinese Communist Party. It is a massive gift to a regime that is using slave and child labor, a favor to an evil regime that wants to destroy our great country. There is no other way to describe it.

The declaration allows communist China to circumvent U.S. trade laws with impunity and continue to dominate the solar industry at the expense of American manufacturers and American jobs. It is an approval of slave and child labor. It is anti-American jobs.

Communist China's solar manufacturing is based on forced labor, government subsidies, and trade abuses. Communist China isn't doing the United States any favor through their dominance of the solar industry. We are building dependence on them.

Even today, communist China is using forced labor to produce solar panels. Purchasing these solar panels is helping fuel these human rights abuses. Because of this, the Uyghur Human Rights Project has announced its support of this CRA, so this is why we are taking this vote today.

This CRA would reinstate the Department of Commerce's own findings that certain companies in Southeast Asian companies are acting in violation of U.S. law by importing Chinese-made solar products--again, made with slave labor. Therefore, tariffs should apply to these specific bad actors.

The tariffs would only apply to these companies. It would not apply to any other industry or to any companies that are lawfully importing solar products not made with slave labor into the United States.

This measure is pro-American jobs and anti-Chinese forced and child labor. It is that simple.

Passing this CRA will send a message to President Xi and communist China: When you break American trade laws and use slave labor, you pay the price.

Under the leadership of my friend and fellow Floridian, Congressman Bill Posey, this CRA has already passed the House with bipartisan support. Now it is time for the Senate to finish the job in Congress and send this to President Biden's desk. This isn't partisan. It is about human rights.

I will not stand by, and I hope the U.S. Senate will not stand by, and accept excuses to turn a blind eye to communist China's human rights atrocities.

The United States is a beacon of freedom to people all over the world. Voting tonight against holding accountable those who enslave others, including children, will be a stain on our Nation that the freedom-loving people of the world will not soon forget.

I look forward to all of my colleagues supporting this CRA.