Mr. CICILLINE. Mr. Speaker, this is the final amendment to the bill which [Page: H5622]
will not kill the bill or send it back to committee. If adopted, the bill will immediately proceed to final passage, as amended.
Much of the debate today has properly focused on the importance of rare-earth elements to our national security and our economic competitiveness.
Globally, the demand for mineral materials continues to grow. These resources are critical for a wide range of products that help ensure the long-term viability of our manufacturing sector, public health, and our defense capabilities.
New technologies and emerging American industries rely on rare minerals. For example, a diverse set of less abundant heavy rare-earth elements are essential to the production of cell phone and laptop screens. Hybrid engines and advanced vehicle technologies similarly rely on these rare minerals. In addition, patients and health care professionals regularly use medical devices and equipment that require rare-earth elements during production.
Finally, our defense capabilities for manufacturers of jet fighter engines to satellite and antimissile systems rely on a consistent supply of rare-earth minerals.
This is an important subject for many business leaders and manufacturers in my home State of Rhode Island and all across our country. In order to plan for the future and to hire additional workers, businesses need to be certain that the supply chain for essential minerals remains consistent and predictable.
So it should be clear that we all understand the strategic and economic importance of these minerals. Some of us disagree on how we should manage the extraction of these elements.
I believe that thoughtful management of these natural resources, instead of undermining important environmental protections, would actually help ensure a supply chain that is sustainable in the long term.
But this amendment addresses a different concern. Today, China has a near-monopoly in the global rare-earth element production market. According to recent estimates from the U.S. Geological Survey, China possesses 97.3 percent of the world's mine production and 55 percent of the world's rare-earth elements reserves.
At the same time, in an attempt to manipulate the world market for minerals and raise prices, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce has established strict export quotas and tariffs. Obviously, this has a real impact on the mineral supply chain for American manufacturers and businesses.
China is not acting alone. Iran is also one of the largest mineral-producing countries in the world. The director of the Persian Gulf Mining and Metal Industries Special Zone in southern Iran has said that China is their largest commercial partner. Recently, according to international reports, senior Chinese officials have engaged with Iran on various geological research projects as they look to expand this relationship. In other words, China is already stockpiling various minerals upon which
American manufacturers and our defense capabilities rely, and they may even be working with Iran to gain a larger market share. This is a real threat to our national security; but it's also a real concern for local businesses and manufacturers, technology companies, and defense contractors who rely on rare-earth elements every day.
Despite these concerns, the underlying bill fails to protect these strategic and critical minerals from exposure to foreign influence or control. That's why I rise today offering an amendment to ensure that minerals produced under this act do not become available to China, Iran, or any entity that has violated existing sanctions laws. Specifically, the amendment would ensure mine permits issued pursuant to this act include provisions prohibiting the export of the strategic and critical materials
produced under the permit to China or Iran.
The amendment also prohibits issuance of permits to any company in which China or Iran has an ownership interest.
Finally, the amendment prohibits issuance of permits to any entity that has been convicted of violating the Iran Sanctions Act and related laws.
In the end, the amendment accomplishes three important goals. First, it guarantees that our own domestic resources aren't used to promote or increase Iranian or Chinese business interests at the expense of the American taxpayer. Second, it makes sure we continue pressuring Iran with economic sanctions in a sector critical to their local economy. This is a vital bipartisan national security interest. And, third, it provides more certainty for domestic manufacturers by ensuring that American minerals
stay here and help make our domestic supply chain more predictable.
I urge my colleagues to support this simple amendment and to protect our country.
I yield back the balance of my time.