As diplomatic and trade relations between the United States and China continue to deteriorate, members of the U.S. House of Representatives from both sides of the political aisle have joined forces to launch a bipartisan caucus to “focus on ways to increase domestic production of specialized minerals used to make missiles, cell phones and other high-tech equipment.”
The “Critical Materials Caucus,” which has been approved by the House Administration Committee’s leadership, will be chaired by U.S. Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), and Guy Reschenthaler (R-Penn.) and will, according to news reports, “initially focus on legislation Swalwell has introduced to permanently fund rare earths research at U.S. Department of Energy laboratories.”
Against the backdrop of a highly partisan political climate in Washington, D.C., the move is encouraging, and bears testimony to the urgency of our critical mineral supply chain woes, which the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has brought to the forefront.
With the specter of material supply cutoffs from China looming, Rep. Swalwell told Reuters:
“All of us want to make sure America addresses this national security issue (…)I don’t consider China an ally country.”
Rep. Reschenthaler added:
“It is more important than ever for our nation to work towards achieving critical material independence.”
While the caucus will initially start in the House, staffers have indicated that it could potentially expand to the U.S. Senate.
We’ll be keeping tabs on the caucus’s work in the coming weeks and months, so stay tuned for updates.