1:41 PM EDT

Steve Pearce, R-NM 2nd

Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 1 1/2 minutes.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to start talking about first what this amendment is not. First of all, it is not a cost increase. CBO has said there will be no cost associated with it. Also, it is not an effort to reestablish the Bureau of Mines at the Department of the Interior. Congress abolished the Bureau of Mines before I came to Congress; but a key component of that agency, the Minerals Information Team, was entrusted to the U.S. Geological Service. Unfortunately, USGS has not recognized the

critical nature of this program or the importance of the information the MIT produces.

Today, at USGS, the Mineral Commodity Function is five steps below the USGS Director, and eight steps below the Secretary of the Interior. In contrast, the Energy Information Administrator is only one step below the Secretary of Energy. At DOI Minerals Information, it's just about like being a janitor; you have about that much access into the system.

The Resource Origin and Commodity Knowledge, ROCK, Act, takes the mineral commodity information function away from USGS and creates and funds a stand-alone agency using DOI resources. It restores and funds the function Congress sought to retain and protect in 1995.

Mr. Chairman, I would reserve the balance of my time.

1:42 PM EDT

Nick Joe Rahall, D-WV 3rd

Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Chairman, this is an amendment that the gentleman continues to push. We had it offered in full committee markup, had debate on it at that time.

When it was offered in committee, I advised him that it did not belong in this bill and perhaps should be considered as a stand-alone piece of legislation after the subject of a hearing. We have not conducted that hearing yet on this matter.

As I said in committee, I do remind my colleagues on the other side that when Newt Gingrich and Company issued their Contract with America, one of its tenets was to reduce the Federal bureaucracy. What the Republican majority ultimately achieved in this regard was the elimination of two Federal entities, the ICC, the Interstate Commerce Commission, which was then recreated as the STB within the Transportation Department. And the other Federal entity that the then-Republican majority eliminated

was the Bureau of Mines at the Interior Department.

Now, in a stunning reversal, the Bureau of Mines would essentially be recreated under the guise of a Mineral Commodity Information Agency, I guess you would call that, MCIA. It would enlarge the bureaucracy and increase Federal spending. I repeat, it would enlarge the Federal bureaucracy and increase spending. I keep looking around for my colleague from Arizona (Mr. Flake). Where are you when we need you?

The gentleman's amendment would authorize $30 million a year for this new bureaucracy that the then-Republican majority eliminated when they ran the Congress. This new bureaucracy would have an associated administrator; it would have four assistant administrators; there would be an external affairs office, a public affairs office, even an international affairs office, and who knows how many other offices here and there.

[Time: 13:45]

The budget, financial, human resources offices, the human capital management office, the professional development office, the contract management office, yadda, yadda, yadda, I think you get the picture. So this is a whole lot of bureaucracy that would be created based on a proposal that never had a hearing and that was rejected by the Republicans when they were in the majority.

I urge the defeat of the amendment.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

1:45 PM EDT

Steve Pearce, R-NM 2nd

Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Chairman, the hearings did occur last year on this bill, and I would remind the gentleman from West Virginia that existing resources inside DOI would be used. That is the reason the CBO said that no additional cost would be required.

I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from Virginia (Mrs. Drake).

1:45 PM EDT

Thelma D. Drake, R-VA 2nd

Mrs. DRAKE. Mr. Chairman, I rise today to support the Pearce amendment to H.R. 2262, which establishes the Minerals Commodity Information Administration at the Department of the Interior. The MIT collects and disseminates data on virtually every commercially important nonfuel mineral commodity produced worldwide, information that is critical to businesses, the government, and importantly, the Department of Defense to help manage the National Defense Stockpile. Due to the importance of the data,

the MIT should be an independent agency reporting to the Secretary of the Interior.

This information from the MIT is critical to the effective use of the Nation's natural resources and for accurate forecasting. Without a reliable source of worldwide commodity information, the U.S. would be blind to any impending supply shortages.

One of the most fundamental functions of the Federal Government is to provide for the common defense. There is an undeniable nexus between our Nation's minerals policy and national security policy. Currently, 24 strategic and critical military materials are imported at no less than 40 percent from our foreign trading partners. For example, the U.S. imports 54 percent of its magnesium. This mineral is vitally important in constructing airplanes and missiles. Requiring our military to import the

strategic and critical minerals it needs from foreign nations, some of whom may be hostile, puts our military at a significant disadvantage and weakens our ability to adequately sustain our national defense.

At a time when defense needs are determined in terms of capabilities-based planning instead of threat-based planning, an accurate assessment of our Nation's minerals is vitally important. The Pearce ROCK Act amendment is a means to that end.

I urge my colleagues to support the Pearce ROCK Act amendment.

1:48 PM EDT

Steve Pearce, R-NM 2nd

Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Chairman, the hearings did occur last year on this bill, and I would remind the gentleman from West Virginia that existing resources inside DOI would be used. That is the reason the CBO said that no additional cost would be required.

I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from Virginia (Mrs. Drake).

1:48 PM EDT

Steve Pearce, R-NM 2nd

Mr. PEARCE. Mr. Chairman, it is interesting that we did get into the discussion of the CBO here and the additional cost that would be implemented under this act. The underlying act actually has been scored at $441 million by CBO over 5 years, almost $100 million a year. I share the gentleman's concern about increasing expenditures, increasing bureaucracy, and would again request that we reconsider the [Page: H12428]

entire thing. But at the moment I would suggest

that we do want to realize that two recent National Research Council reports stress that we are increasingly dependent on foreign nations for minerals critical to America and that we need to have an independent agency as called for in this ROCK Act amendment.

My amendment will establish the independent Minerals Commodity Information Administration and the Minerals Information Team to collect, analyze and disseminate information on the domestic and international supply of and demand for minerals, materials critical to the U.S. economy, and our national security.

U.S. businesses operate in a global economy, and virtually every manufacturing sector from aviation to textiles relies on the unbiased, comprehensive data reported by the MIT. This information enables American companies to use domestic resources effectively, forecast worldwide market conditions, develop informed strategic business plans, and respond effectively to short-term fluctuations and long-term trends in minerals prices, and I urge the adoption of the amendment.

1:50 PM EDT

Nick Joe Rahall, D-WV 3rd

Mr. RAHALL. Mr. Chairman, I yield the balance of my time to the distinguished chairman of the subcommittee on Interior appropriations and my fellow classmate, Mr. Dicks of Washington.

1:50 PM EDT

Norm Dicks, D-WA 6th

Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to this amendment. This amendment is unnecessary. The country does not need a new bureau to create minerals information. The current situation in which the U.S. Geologic Survey administers the minerals information works perfectly fine.

As chairman of the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, I have examined the Bush administration proposals to eliminate funding for the USGS minerals information function. Even during these difficult budgetary times, our subcommittee has appreciated the important function of the minerals assessment team at the USGS and refused the administration's recommendation to eliminate its funding.

The Pearce amendment would nearly double the size of the new agency. It would create a new bureaucracy with at least 300 staff and a yearly cost of $30 million or more. So please join me in rejecting this amendment.

I yield to the former chairman of the Interior subcommittee, Mr. Regula from Ohio.