Monday, September 27, 2021

House panel Democrats backs anti-GOP forced labor amendment

Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday defeated a Republican amendment that would have prohibited the use of federal funds to purchase any critical minerals needed for renewable energy products such as electric vehicle (EV) batteries, that was mined with forced labor.

Introduced the second day of the panel’s markup of President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better” spending program, the amendment by Rep. Tim Wahlberg (R-Mich.) would make it illegal to import or pay for products made from critical minerals. Mined or assembled by forced labor.

The country most frequently mentioned during the ensuing debate was China because of the use of forced labor by millions of Muslim Uighurs in the production of a long list of consumer products exported to the United States.

The Congo, which has most of the world’s cobalt, is needed for the batteries used in EVs, which Biden plans to get American consumers to buy instead of traditional internal combustion-powered cars and trucks. wants to encourage.

China controls most of the cobalt mining in Congo as well as lithium, which is also essential for EV batteries. The amendment’s approval would have created a major hurdle in achieving Biden’s goal of half of all US new vehicle purchases of EVs by 2030.

The debate over the amendment – ​​which was defeated on a party-line vote of 32-26 – heated up as Republicans forced African children to dig cobalt with their bare hands and Uighurs held in Chinese labor camps, and Democrats enraged. Responded that the United States already had such laws and thus did not require another with the passage of the Wahlberg Amendment.

“My Democratic friends have involved hundreds of billions of dollars to change us” [electric] grid and make us dependent on renewables and electric vehicles,” Wahlberg said defending his amendment.

“This will not only lead to trillions more in taxes and debts, but will increase [electricity and energy] By reducing rates, and wages, it would make our country as a whole depend entirely on communist China,” Wahlberg continued.

“Communist China produces 90 percent of the silicon wafers that are important building blocks for solar panels and 80 percent of the rare earth minerals that go into magnets needed for wind turbines and EV motors. China now has the world’s battery capacity and controls about 80 percent of the world’s battery component manufacturing,” Wahlberg said.

“It’s not just a national security issue, it’s also a human rights imperative, and this is where it gets to our souls. If we’re going to build our domestic renewable energy industry, we have to think about that. There is a need to have an honest conversation about where we are getting these materials from,” he said.

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Wahlberg noted that China has detained millions of Muslim Uighurs in more than 100 forced labor camps in that country’s coal-rich northeastern section. There is an estimated 21 million square feet of factory space in which Uighurs are forced to work, often making products for American firms that export them back to this country.

“So I ask my colleagues, where are the critical minerals needed for carbon-free electricity by 2035 going to come from? Aside from vague promises, we have made sure to domestically sourcing and mining the raw materials needed to make the batteries that power EVs. has seen very little action by Democrats and the Biden administration,” Wahlberg said.

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He said a similar amendment was adopted last week by the House Science, Space and Technology Committee on a bipartisan vote.

In response, Rep. Cathy Castor (D-Fla.) said, “The Biden administration has already taken significant steps to prevent imports of critical minerals from areas that rely on forced labor and environmental protection.”

The administration’s actions “send a clear, conclusive message that the United States does not tolerate forced labor” and that “importing critical minerals produced using forced labor may be a violation of US law.”

Wahlberg’s amendment “negates the significant efforts that are already underway to end forced labor and is a distraction from the legislation we are considering,” Castor said.

Wahlberg said he was encouraged that the Biden administration had taken some action on the issue, and then asked Castor, “What’s the problem with putting Congress in this bill and taking the same steps that you intend to pass.” And put the meaning of Congress, as it were, to line up with the administration if that’s what they really believe and work for?” Castor did not respond.

A clearly irritated representative. Jan Shakowski (D-Ill.) told the committee that since 1930 US law has prohibited the importation of products made using forced labor, and added, “We have these laws. They’re on the books. Maybe they need to be implemented more, and so this amendment is not really necessary.”

Mark Tapscott

Congress correspondent

Hilfaith Founding Editor, Congressional Correspondent for The Epoch Times, FOIA Hall of Fame, Reignnot, OK/Texan.

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This News Originally From – The Epoch Times

House panel Democrats backs anti-GOP forced labor amendment
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