President Biden on Wednesday revoked a Trump-era executive order that sought to ban the popular apps TikTok and WeChat and replaced it with one that calls for a broader review of a number of foreign-controlled applications that could pose a security risk to Americans and their data.
The Trump-era order had not been carried out “in the soundest fashion,” administration officials said in a call with reporters on Wednesday, adding that the new directive would establish “clear intelligible criteria” to evaluate national security risks posed by software applications connected to foreign governments, particularly China.
Mr. Biden’s order will bolster recent actions the Biden administration has taken to curb the growing influence of Chinese technology companies, and it is the first significant step Mr. Biden has taken to address a challenge left for him by President Donald J. Trump, whose administration last year fought to ban TikTok and force its Chinese-owned parent company, ByteDance, to sell the app. TikTok, with an estimated 100 million U.S. users, fought back, suing the Trump administration over the impending ban in federal court.
In September, the Trump administration followed through with another executive order banning operations of TikTok and WeChat, the popular messaging service owned by Tencent. A judge granted an injunction of the Trump order, giving TikTok a lifeline until November.
At the same time, the Trump administration took on the role of dealmaker. It said TikTok could maintain U.S. operations only if it sold itself to a U.S. company and shed all Chinese-based infrastructure and ties. After rushed bids and jockeying by tech giants, Oracle and Walmart won their bid to buy a stake in the company for an undisclosed amount. Mr. Trump then rejected the deal that his administration had orchestrated.
TikTok’s woes subsided with Mr. Trump’s election defeat. Though the company is still under scrutiny with the Biden administration’s new executive order, analysts say the dramatic ups and downs for the company will significantly subside.
James Lewis, a senior vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the Biden administration has shown no easing of the government’s strong stance against China. But the new executive order lays out much more precise criteria for weighing risks posed by TikTok and other companies owned by foreign adversaries like China.
“They are taking the same direction as the Trump administration but in some ways tougher, in a more orderly fashion and implemented in a good way,” Mr. Lewis said.
On Wednesday, administration officials would not go into specifics about the future of TikTok’s availability to American users or say whether the United States government would seek to compel ByteDance to transfer American user data to a company based in the United States. Amid a number of successful legal challenges waged by ByteDance, a deal to transfer the data to Oracle fell through this year shortly after Mr. Biden took office.
Administration officials said that a review of TikTok by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the body that considers the national security implications of foreign investments in U.S. companies, was still continuing and separate from the order.
Several apps, including TikTok, WeChat, and AliPay, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Mr. Biden’s order was meant to broaden one issued in 2019 by the Trump administration, which banned American telecommunications companies from installing foreign-made equipment that could pose a threat to national security. That order did not name specific companies, nor did the one Mr. Biden issued on Wednesday. The new directive also does not mention specific retaliatory measures that could be taken if an application is found to be a threat to national security.
A group of bipartisan House lawmakers unveiled their own framework for an infrastructure package, as Democrats wrestle with how to advance President Biden’s ambitions for a sweeping economic agenda and whether to restructure the plan to win Republican votes.
Mr. Biden’s decision to end talks with Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, the lead Republican negotiating a package on behalf of the Republican conference, has left prospects for a bipartisan deal unclear, even as the administration has encouraged lawmakers to continue working toward that goal.
The so-called Problems Solvers Caucus, a group of 29 Democrats and 29 Republicans in the House, put forward a plan for $761.8 billion in new spending, as part of an overall $1.249 trillion plan over eight years. While the plan outlines funding pots for highways, roads, waterways, broadband, airports and veterans’ housing, it does not address how to pay for the legislation — one of the biggest hurdles that has long prevented agreements on infrastructure in the past.
The leaders of that caucus, Representatives Josh Gottheimer, Democrat of New Jersey, and Brian Fitzpatrick, Republican of Pennsylvania, have been in touch with a group of senators who have been quietly discussing their own framework. Those senators, led in part by Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio, and Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, huddled for hours Tuesday evening, but did not emerge with any details of specific funding levels or a timeline for releasing a framework.
But the administration also faces pressure from liberal Democrats, who are eager to abandon the search for the 10 Republican votes needed to overcome the filibuster and instead opt to muscle a fiscal package through using the fast-track budget reconciliation process.
“Every day that is wasted trying to get Republicans on board is another day that people can’t go back to work because they don’t have child care; another day without investing in millions of good, union jobs, another day that we lose further ground on the climate crisis,” said Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington, the chairwoman of the House Progressive Caucus. “Further delays jeopardize momentum and allow Republicans to block progress for the American people with no end in sight.”
Using that process, however, will be fraught as all 50 Senate Democrats and nearly all House Democrats will need to be united around the plan for it to clear both chambers.
The White House has reached an agreement with Pfizer and BioNTech to provide 500 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to about 100 countries over the next two years, a pact that President Biden plans to announce as early as Thursday, according to multiple people familiar with the plan.
Under intense pressure to do more to address the global vaccine shortage and the disparities in vaccination between rich and poor nations, the president hinted at the plan Wednesday morning, when he was asked if he had a vaccination strategy for the world.
“I have one, and I’ll be announcing it,” Mr. Biden said, shortly before he boarded Air Force One for his first trip abroad as president He was headed first to Cornwall, England to meet with leaders of the Group of 7 nations.
People familiar with the deal said the United States will pay for the doses at a “not-for-profit” price. The first 200 million doses would be distributed this year, and 300 million would be distributed next year. Albert Bourla, chief executive of Pfizer, is expected to appear with the president when Mr. Biden makes his announcement.
The United States has already contracted to buy 300 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which takes two shots. The new agreement is separate from those contracts, according to one person familiar with it, bringing to 800 million the total number of doses the United States has agreed to purchase from the companies thus far.
The White House coronavirus response coordinator, Jeffrey D. Zients, whom Mr. Biden has put in charge of global vaccination, said in a statement on Wednesday that the president would use the “momentum” of the U.S. inoculation campaign “to rally the world’s democracies around solving this crisis globally, with America leading the way to create the arsenal of vaccines that will be critical in our global fight against Covid-19.”
The 500 million doses still fall far short of the 11 billion doses the World Health Organization estimates are needed to vaccinate the world, but it significantly exceeds what the United States has committed so far. Other nations have been pleading with the United States to share some of its abundant vaccine supplies.
Last week, Mr. Biden said that the United States would distribute 25 million doses this month to countries in the Caribbean and Latin America; South and Southeast Asia; Africa; and the Palestinian territories, Gaza and the West Bank.
Those doses are the first of 80 million that Mr. Biden pledged to send abroad by the end of June; three quarters of them will be distributed by the international vaccine effort known as Covax. The rest will go toward addressing pressing and urgent crises in places like India and the West Bank and Gaza, administration officials have said.
But activists have insisted that the effort is not nearly enough. They are calling on the Biden administration and leaders of other developed nations to go beyond sharing surplus doses by laying out a plan to ramp up manufacturing overseas, and pushing for vaccine makers to transfer their technology to other nations.
Mr. Biden has already committed to supporting a waiver of an international intellectual property agreement, which would require vaccine makers to share their technology. But European leaders are still blocking the proposed waiver, and pharmaceutical companies are strongly opposed to it. The World Trade Organization’s Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights is meeting this week to consider the waiver.
“The truth is that world leaders have been kicking the can down the road for months — to the point where they have run out of road,” Edwin Ikhouria, executive director for Africa at the ONE Campaign, a nonprofit aimed at eradicating global poverty, said in a statement on Wednesday.
“This is the moment to do whatever it takes to beat the virus everywhere,” he said, “starting by immediately sharing their surplus doses, fully funding the global initiatives set up to distribute Covid vaccines,” and coming up with an economically viable strategy to distribute them to countries in need.
Mr. Biden’s announcement comes after the United States has at least partly vaccinated 52 percent of its population. But as the pace of vaccination has dropped sharply since mid-April, the Biden administration has pursued a strategy of greater accessibility and incentives to reach Americans who have not yet gotten shots.
In spite of those efforts, there are unused vaccine doses that could go to waste. Once thawed, doses have a limited shelf life and millions could begin expiring within a little as two weeks, according to federal officials.
Providing equitable access to vaccines has become one of the most intractable challenges to reining in the pandemic. Wealthier nations and private entities have pledged tens of millions of vaccine doses and billions of dollars to shore up global supplies, but the disparity in vaccine allocations so far has been stark.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, warned earlier this week that the world was facing a “two-track pandemic,” in which countries where vaccines are scarce will struggle with virus cases even as better-supplied nations return to normal.
Those lower-income countries will be largely dependent on wealthier ones until vaccines can be distributed and produced on a more equitable basis, he said.
It should not be that hard to be an American leader visiting Europe for the first time after the presidency of Donald J. Trump.
But President Biden will face his own challenges when he arrives on Wednesday, especially as the United States confronts a disruptive Russia and a rising China while trying to reassemble and rally the shaken Western alliance as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Biden, who departed Washington on Wednesday for a series of summits buoyed by a successful vaccination program and a rebounding economy, will spend the next week making the case that America is back and ready to lead the West anew in what he calls an existential collision between democracies and autocracies.
On the agenda are meetings in Britain with leaders of the Group of 7 nations, followed by visits to NATO and the European Union. On Mr. Biden’s final day, in Geneva on Wednesday of next week, he will hold his first meeting as president with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
Mr. Biden’s overarching task is to deliver the diplomatic serenity that eluded such gatherings during four years in which Mr. Trump scorched longstanding relationships with close allies, threatened to pull out of NATO and embraced Mr. Putin and other autocrats, admiring their strength.
But the good will Mr. Biden brings simply by not being Mr. Trump papers over lingering doubts about his durability, American reliability and the cost that Europe will be expected to pay.
Mr. Biden will face European leaders who are now wary of the United States in a way they have not been since 1945 — and are wondering where the country is headed.
“They have seen the state of the Republican Party,” said Barry Pavel, the director of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at The Atlantic Council. “They’ve seen Jan. 6. They know you could have another president in 2024.”
If the future of the United States is the long-term concern, how to manage a disruptive Russia is the immediate agenda. No part of the trip will be more charged than a daylong meeting with Mr. Putin.
Representative Val Demings, a Florida Democrat who was floated as a potential vice-presidential pick in 2020, will challenge Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, in a 2022 race likely to be fought over the legacy of a third Sunshine Stater — former President Donald J. Trump.
The announcement on Wednesday by Ms. Demings, the former police chief of Orlando and one of the managers of Mr. Trump’s first impeachment, was expected for weeks.
But it came as welcome news to embattled Democrats in the state, giving them a high-profile and well-funded opponent against a tough and wily incumbent who once scorned, and now supports, Mr. Trump.
Ms. Demings, who is Black, made it clear she would not abide by the middle-of-the-road messaging favored by recent Democratic candidates like former Senator Bill Nelson. In her kickoff announcement, she made a direct appeal to her party’s diverse, urban base, speaking bluntly about her race, gender and experiences growing up in segregated Jacksonville in the 1960s.
“When you grow up in the South poor, Black and female, you have to have faith in progress and opportunity,” she said in a video posted on her Twitter page early Wednesday, showing her walking past a church in her hometown. “My father was a janitor, and my mother was a maid. She said, ‘Never tire of doing good, never tire.’”
Mr. Rubio, speaking on Fox News over the weekend, dismissed Ms. Demings as a left-wing activist who was trying to soft-peddle her “socialist” views.
“How can you vote with Nancy Pelosi a hundred percent of the time and argue that you’re not a far-left, liberal extremist?” he asked.
Two other Democrats from the Orlando area, Representative Stephanie Murphy and former Representative Alan Grayson, are also considering jumping into the race.
Ms. Demings faces a daunting task. Florida Democrats have been battered by mounting losses in a perpetual battleground state trending red, capped by Mr. Trump’s comfortable win in the state last year.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican who has emerged as a leader of the Trump wing of the party and is said to be considering a 2024 presidential run, also faces re-election next year.
The presence of Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Rubio on the same ballot is almost certain to boost turnout on both sides and elicit massive small-donor contributions in a state with several big, expensive media markets.
Ms. Demings seemed to be leaning toward the governor race earlier this year: When Representative Charlie Crist declared his Democratic candidacy against Mr. DeSantis this spring, her team released a polished biographical video on the same day.
Nikki Fried, a Democrat who serves as Florida agriculture commissioner, is also running for governor. She is one of the few statewide officials who is a Democrat; Florida’s other senator, Rick Scott, is a Republican.
In 2016, Mr. Rubio easily defeated his Democratic challenger, Patrick Murphy, then a congressman. But that same year Mr. Trump demolished him in the Republican presidential debates, mocking him as “Little Marco” and hammering him for supporting a bipartisan immigration bill that would have offered undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship.
Over the past four years Mr. Rubio has kept a low profile, careful to support Mr. Trump politically, while politely parting with him over several foreign policy issues, including Mr. Trump’s ill-fated overtures to North Korea and Russia.
The former president reciprocated in April, offering his onetime critic a “Complete and Total Endorsement” to quell rumors of a primary challenge against Mr. Rubio from the right.
General Motors on Wednesday told the Biden administration that it would agree to tighter federal fuel economy and tailpipe pollution rules, along the lines of what California has already agreed to with five other auto companies.
The move is a step by the nation’s largest automaker away from its position during the Trump administration, when G.M.’s chief executive officer, Mary Barra, asked President Donald J. Trump to relax Obama-era auto pollution rules.
President Biden is seeking to reinstate those restrictions as part of his efforts to cut climate-warming pollution, and he hopes to propose new draft auto pollution rules as soon as next month.
Ms. Barra stopped short of endorsing Mr. Biden’s desire to fully reimpose or strengthen the Obama-era auto pollution standards, which to date stand as the strongest policy ever imposed by the federal government to fight climate change. And she also asked the administration to augment the federal rules with provisions that would give incentives to auto companies that are investing in electric vehicles, although she did not specify what those incentives should be.
Just weeks after Mr. Biden’s election, Ms. Barra dropped her company’s support of the Trump administration’s efforts to nullify California’s rules on tailpipe emissions. And days after the new president’s inauguration, she announced that after 2035 her company would sell only vehicles that have zero emissions, a target in line with Mr. Biden’s pledge to cut the United States’ emissions 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.
This week, in a letter to Michael Regan, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Ms. Barra wrote, “G.M. supports the emissions reduction goals of California through model year ’26,” adding, “the auto industry is embarking upon a profound transition as we do our part to achieve the country’s climate commitments.”
The Obama-era climate rules, which G.M. sought to loosen, required automakers to build vehicles by 2025 that achieve an average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon. The rules would have eliminated about six billion tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide pollution over the lifetime of the vehicles. Mr. Trump rolled back Mr. Obama’s standards from 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 to 40 miles per gallon and revoked California’s legal authority to set its own state-level standard.
California reached a separate deal with Honda, Ford, Volkswagen, BMW and Volvo under which they would be required to increase their average fuel economy to about 51 miles per gallon by 2026.
Ms. Barra said that her company would now support those standards at the federal level — alongside a program to give some form of credit or incentive to electric vehicle manufacturers like her own company.
Negotiations on the new auto pollution standards are ongoing alongside White House talks to reach a deal on infrastructure legislation, which Mr. Biden hopes will include generous spending on tax credits for electric vehicle manufacturers and consumers, as well as direct government investments in 500,000 new electric vehicle charging stations.
Nick Conger, an E.P.A. spokesman, said in an email that Mr. Regan had spoken this week with leaders from auto manufacturers and that the “conversations have been constructive as the agency moves forward on actions to address emissions from cars and light-duty trucks.”
The New York Times asked a court on Tuesday to unseal legal filings by the Justice Department that would reveal how prosecutors persuaded a court to cloak secrecy over an order to seize the email records of four New York Times reporters and then to prevent Times executives from speaking about the matter.
The filing came as Attorney General Merrick B. Garland scheduled a meeting on Monday with leaders of three news organizations — The Times, The Washington Post and CNN — to discuss concerns over prosecutors’ practices in leak investigations, according to two people familiar with the matter.
In recent weeks, the Biden Justice Department has disclosed Trump-era seizures of phone records for reporters at each of those organizations. After the first two disclosures, involving The Post and CNN, President Biden vowed not to let the Justice Department go after reporters’ sourcing information during his administration.
But last week, it came to light that the department had also secretly seized Times reporters’ phone records — and fought a separate, and ultimately unsuccessful, battle to obtain their email records from Google, which runs the Times’s email system. The Trump Justice Department obtained a court order to Google on Jan. 5. After Google resisted complying, the Justice Department under Mr. Biden kept the effort going until dropping it last Wednesday.
In an added twist, the government in March allowed a handful of Times lawyers and executives to know about the order and the legal fight over it. But it imposed a gag order that prevented them from disclosing it to the public or colleagues. Among others, Dean Baquet, the executive editor, was kept in the dark until a judge lifted the gag order on Friday.
A Senate committee is scheduled to hold a hearing about college sports on Wednesday, at a time when college athletes are on the brink of being able to make money off their fame under coming changes to the rules that have governed college sports for more than a century.
Up until now, a provision in the N.C.A.A.’s Division I manual has barred players from being paid “to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind.” The restrictions also have the effect of keeping students from selling their autographs and limiting how they may promote camps where they teach their craft.
But the rules are almost certainly about to change.
The N.C.A.A. says that one of its most influential panels is “expected to act” to change them during a meeting that begins on June 22, “provided it is feasible to do so.”
The lawyerly caveats are typical of the N.C.A.A., which happens to be awaiting a Supreme Court decision in an antitrust case, and the association’s plans could change dramatically for a host of reasons.
But the college sports industry is running out of time to rewrite its rules. Some states, including Alabama, Florida and Georgia, have laws poised to take effect on July 1 that are designed to guarantee student-athletes the opportunity to profit off their names, images and likenesses, regardless of what the N.C.A.A. says.
Those laws — and there are more like them in the pipeline across the country, including some that have already been signed into law but will go into effect later — have athletics officials anxious about a competitive imbalance. Unless the N.C.A.A. acts, many universities worry that schools in states with the new laws will gain an enormous advantage in recruiting: the ability to dangle the legally protected possibility to make money as a college athlete.
Congress has been paying attention, too, and could ultimately push ahead with legislation that would set a federal standard resolving the competitive issues surrounding the disparate state rules. College sports administrators also hope a federal law would offer them a greater shield from litigation.
Whether Congress will do anything, or when, is a different matter entirely. Legislators, particularly in the Senate, have long been engaged in negotiations about what a federal law might look like, but they have not yet struck a deal destined to make it through both chambers of Congress. Changing college sports may be centrally important for universities and the N.C.A.A., but it is a lower priority among federal lawmakers.
Some athletics administrators and legislators still believe that officials in Washington could reach an accord before the state laws start taking effect on July 1. Others are far more doubtful and, the panicked warnings of college sports executives notwithstanding, say they are unbothered by the possibility of a little chaos and confusion.
The Senate confirmed President Biden’s first two judicial nominees on Tuesday with modest Republican support, the start of what Democrats intend to be a sprint to fill scores of federal vacancies and rebalance the ideological makeup of the courts after the Trump era.
In a lopsided 66-to-33 vote, the chamber approved Julien Xavier Neals to serve as a district court judge in New Jersey, where a spate of vacancies have contributed to a significant backlog of cases.
A few hours later, Democrats mustered even more Republican support, voting 72 to 28 to confirm Regina M. Rodriguez as the first Asian American judge to serve on the Federal District Court bench in Colorado.
“This is the first, certainly not the last — not even close,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, boasted between the votes. “We’re going to be able to restore a lot of balance to the courts because there are a lot of vacancies we are going to fill.”
Democrats plan to move as soon as this week to confirm Mr. Biden’s first appeals court pick, Ketanji Brown Jackson, to serve on the powerful D.C. Circuit. They have roughly a dozen other nominees winding their way through the approval process, and more than 100 seats on the federal bench are expected to become vacant in the coming months.
But they are starting from a deep hole. When they controlled the Senate under the presidency of Donald J. Trump, Republicans, led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, used their majority to confirm more than 220 federal judges over four years, including more than 50 to influential appeals court posts and three to the Supreme Court.
The Biden White House moved swiftly to begin naming nominees for many of the most important posts this spring, far earlier than the historic norm, and Mr. Biden’s liberal allies on Capitol Hill have made the approval of those nominees a top priority.
The Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation on Tuesday that would pour nearly a quarter-trillion dollars over the next five years into scientific research and development to bolster competitiveness against China.
Republicans and Democrats — overcoming their traditional partisan differences over economic policy — banded together to endorse what would be the most significant government intervention in industrial policy in decades. It includes federal investments in a slew of emerging technologies as well as the semiconductor industry.
The 68-32 vote reflected the sense of urgency about the need to counter Beijing and other authoritarian governments that have poured substantial resources into bolstering their industrial and technological strength.
The bill is likely to face stiffer headwinds in the House, where top lawmakers have expressed skepticism about its focus on bolstering emerging technologies.
That debate played out in the Senate, which ultimately watered down the original concept of the legislation. Still, the Senate’s lopsided margin of support for the more than 2,400-page bill highlights a series of political shifts. Jolted to action by the coronavirus pandemic, which prompted shortages of crucial goods that highlighted the country’s dependence on its biggest geopolitical adversary, policymakers in Washington have moved to try to increase domestic production capacity. Passage of the legislation came hours after the Biden administration announced new steps to strengthen U.S. supply chains.
“Whoever harnesses the technologies like A.I. and quantum computing and innovations yet unseen will shape the world in their image,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic majority leader and a longtime China hawk who helped spearhead the bill. “Do we want that image to be a democratic image? Or do we want it to be an authoritarian image like President Xi would like to impose on the world? Either we can concede the mantle of global leadership to our adversaries or we can pave the way for another generation of American leadership.”
The legislation, the core of which was a collaboration between Mr. Schumer and Senator Todd Young, Republican of Indiana, would prop up semiconductor makers by providing an emergency injection of funding for a $52 billion subsidy program with few restrictions, sending a lifeline to the industry during a global chip shortage that shut auto plants and rippled through the global supply chain.
It would sink hundreds of billions more into scientific research and development pipelines in the United States, creating grants and fostering agreements between private companies and research universities across the country to encourage breakthroughs in new technology.
“When future generations of Americans cast their gaze toward new frontiers, will they see a red flag planted on those new frontiers that is not our own?” Mr. Young said during a speech on the Senate floor. “Today, we answer unequivocally, ‘No.’ Today we declare our intention to win this century, and those that follow it as well.”
While the centerpiece of the legislation is focused on bolstering research and development in emerging technologies, it also includes a major trade measure that would allow the temporary suspension of tariffs on specific U.S. imports and would call on the Biden administration to impose sanctions on those responsible for forced labor practices and human rights abuses in and around China’s Xinjiang region.
One of the nation’s biggest solar-energy companies said on Wednesday that it would double production in the United States by opening a third plant in Ohio by the middle of 2023.
The company, First Solar, said it would invest $680 million to build a new plant in Lake Township, Ohio, which is about an hour south of Cleveland, where it already has a plant. The project is expected to add 500 jobs to the company’s roster of 1,600 employees in the United States.
“We have said that we stand ready to support President Biden’s goal to transition America to a clean, energy-secure future, and our decision to more than double our U.S. manufacturing capacity with this new facility is First Solar making good on that commitment,” Mark Widmar, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement. “This facility will represent a significant leap forward in photovoltaics manufacturing, a true factory of the future.”
Mr. Biden wants to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the electric grid by 2035, an ambitious goal that would involve remaking the energy industry. The president has promised that the transition to cleaner energy would create millions of new jobs, a claim that some critics have said is far-fetched.
Over the last decade or so, most solar panel manufacturing has moved to China and other Asian countries where labor costs tend to be a lot lower than in the United States. That has been frustrating to Democratic lawmakers who have embraced solar power but also want more domestic manufacturing jobs.
But First Solar, which is based in Tempe, Ariz., and a couple of other companies have in recent years expanded production in the United States. In 2019, the Korean company Hanwha Q CELLS opened a plant in Dalton, Ga., and the Chinese firm JinkoSolar opened a factory in Jacksonville, Fla.
In addition to the operations in Lake Township, First Solar also has a plant in the Toledo area. The company’s panels are different from the more widely used silicon crystalline models. First Solar’s panels are made from a thin film silicon material and are typically used in large solar farms that supply power directly to the electric grid rather than on residential rooftops.
First Solar said its new plant should help it further reduce costs and allow American-made panels to compete more effectively with those produced in China. A sharp drop in the cost of solar panels over the last 10 years has made them one of the least expensive ways to generate electricity, far cheaper in some cases than power plants that burn coal and natural gas.