Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee rejected a Republican amendment on Tuesday that prohibits the use of federal funds to purchase any key minerals needed for renewable energy products, such as electric vehicle (EV) batteries mined through forced labor.
On the second day of the panel’s price increase on President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion “Rebuild Better” spending plan, Congressman Tim Wahlberg (Republican of Michigan) proposed an amendment that would provide for import or Products made with key minerals are illegally mined or assembled by forced labor.
In the ensuing debate, the most frequently mentioned country was China, because millions of Muslim Uighurs used forced labor to produce a long list of consumer goods exported to the United States.
Also often mentioned is Congo, which owns most of the cobalt in the world. Biden’s plan aims to encourage American consumers to buy batteries used in electric cars instead of traditional internal combustion engine cars and trucks.
China controls most of Congo’s cobalt mines, as well as lithium mines for electric vehicle batteries. The approval of the amendment will be a major obstacle to Biden’s goal of achieving half of all new car purchases in the United States by 2030 to be electric vehicles.
As Republicans condemned African children for being forced to dig cobalt with their bare hands and Uyghurs were detained in labor camps in China, the debate on the amendment became fierce. The amendment was rejected by a party vote of 32 to 26, while the Democrats He replied angrily that every state in the United States already has such a law, so with the passage of the Wahlberg Amendment, another law is not needed.
“My Democratic friends have invested hundreds of billions of dollars to change our [electric] And let us rely on renewable energy and electric vehicles,” Wahlberg said while defending his amendment.
“Not only will this result in trillions of dollars in taxes and debt, it will also push up [electricity and energy] Rate and weaken wages, which will further consolidate our country’s full and complete dependence on communist China,” Wahlberg continued.
“Communist China produces 90% of silicon wafers, which are a key component of solar panels, and 80% of rare earth minerals are used to make magnets that are essential for wind turbines and electric car engines. China now controls the entire world. 80% of battery production capacity and 60% of global battery module manufacturing,” Wahlberg said.
“This is not only a national security issue, but also a human rights priority. This is where our soul lies. If we are to build our domestic renewable energy industry, we need to have an honest dialogue about the source of these materials,” he added.
Wahlberg pointed out that China has detained millions of mainly Muslim Uyghurs in more than 100 forced labor camps in the country’s coal-rich northeast. An estimated 21 million square feet of factory space forced Uighurs to work in it, and they often produce products for American companies that export products back to the country.
“So I asked my colleagues, where will the key minerals needed to achieve carbon-free electricity by 2035 come from? Apart from vague promises, we have hardly seen any actions taken by the Democratic Party and the Biden administration to ensure domestic procurement and Mining the raw materials needed for the batteries that power electric vehicles,” Wahlberg added.
He pointed out that last week the House Science, Space and Technology Committee passed a similar amendment through a bipartisan vote.
In response, Rep. Casey Custer (Florida Democrat) said: “The Biden administration has taken key measures to prevent the import of key minerals from areas that rely on forced labor and lax environmental protection.”
The government’s actions sent out “a clear and decisive message that the United States does not tolerate forced labor” and that importing “key minerals produced by forced labor may constitute a violation of US law.”
Wahlberg’s amendment “ignores important ongoing efforts to end forced labor and distracts the legislation we are considering here,” Caster said.
Wahlberg said that the Biden administration took some actions on this issue to encourage him, and then asked Castor, “Congress takes the same steps, put it in the bill you intend to pass, and put the meaning What’s the problem with it? If that’s what they really believe and work for, will members of Congress align with the government?” Custer did not respond.
An apparently irritated Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Illinois Democrat) told the committee that since 1930, U.S. laws prohibit the import of products manufactured using forced labor. She said: “We have these laws. They are in the book. Maybe they are. It needs to be enforced more strictly, so this amendment is really unnecessary.”
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times