Cotton’s Bipartisan Bill Seeks to End Reliance on China’s Rare-Earths

A pair of bipartisan senators are introducing a bill that seeks to end the reliance on China for rare-earth elements — an effort that has become more significant amid the push for electric vehicles.

“The Restoring Essential Energy and Security Holdings Onshore for Rare Earths (REEShore) Act seeks to protect America from the threat of rare-earth element supply disruptions, encourage domestic production of those elements, and reduce our reliance on China,” Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., wrote in a statement introducing the bill Friday.

The legislation’s bullet points:

  • Requires Defense and Interior Departments to set up a strategic reserve of rare-earth elements by 2025, which would meet the military, defense, and technology needs for one year in the event of a disruption.
  • Requires disclosures on the country of origin for rare-earth magnets delivered to the U.S. military.
  • Prohibits the use of Chinese-tied rare-earth metals in Department of Defense systems by 2026.
  • Investigates and reports on China’s unfair trade practices in the rare-earth market to potentially levy tariffs.

A push to reshore business from China and change the paradigm with the communist country was a key focus of the Trump administration. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has been less aggressive at pushing back on China, only famously saying, “they’re not bad folks, folks.”

Then the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the world in 2020.

Cotton considers reshoring rare-earth materials an issue of national security.

“The Chinese Communist Party has a chokehold on global rare-earth element supplies, which are used in everything from batteries to fighter jets,” Cotton wrote in a statement. “Ending America’s dependence on the CCP for extraction and processing of these elements is critical to winning the strategic competition against China and protecting our national security.”

Cotton’s co-sponsor on the bill is a veteran of the Navy and a former NASA astronaut who has relied on rare-earth metals.

“As a 25-year Navy veteran who served in the South China Sea, I know just how critical it is to invest in our nation’s defense and technology capabilities,” Kelly wrote in a statement. “Our bipartisan bill will strengthen America’s position as a global leader in technology by reducing our country’s reliance on adversaries like China for rare-earth elements.”

Kelly is among the vulnerable senators in the 2022 midterm elections. President Donald Trump is headed to Arizona on Saturday and is likely to rally Republican support to defeat Kelly as one of the paths for the GOP to retake control of the Senate.

“Taking America back begins with kicking Mark Kelly the hell out of the United States Senate,” Kelly quoted Trump in an email call for campaign funds Friday.

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