House Democratic have rejected legislation to stop President Biden’s $3.5 trillion social welfare bill from benefiting countries that use slave labor, such as China, through the federal government’s transition to an all-electric vehicle fleet.
Republicans on the House Oversight Committee offered an amendment to the massive spending bill that would have required the administration to certify that no “minerals” used in federally purchased electric vehicles were produced by slave or child labor.
Mr. Biden proposes spending upward of $7.4 billion to upgrade the federal fleet from gas-powered to electric vehicles as part of his climate change agenda.
Republicans argued that the U.S. needed to do more to develop its supply of rare earth minerals that are vital to the production of high-tech batteries used in electric vehicles.
“The [Democratic] majority has time and time again referred back to electric vehicles, while at every turn neglecting the fundamental requirement needed to grow this industry,” said Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican who introduced the amendment. “Simply put you can not have electric vehicles without critical minerals, yet Democrats … have undermined the mining and processing of these minerals in America.”
Oversight Committee Democrats disagreed. They said that there were existing regulations in place to prevent taxpayer dollars from supporting child and slave labor.
“Forced labor and child labor are morally reprehensible and every company carries the responsibility to ensure their supply chains are free and fair,” said Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, New York Democrat. “However [current law] already bars U.S. imports of any good that was produced with slave or child labor.”
The committee rejected the amendment in a party-line vote on Thursday.
The amendment targeted China‘s dominance of the electric-vehicle battery market.
In 2019, China produced 72% of the world’s lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, while the U.S. accounted for 9%. Such batteries are used to power the engines in electric vehicles, according to the Energy Department.
The communist regime’s advantage is partially the result of long-term investment and planning.
A report by the London-based firm Benchmark Mineral Intelligence said China produces 80% of the total raw materials used for advanced batteries, including such minerals as lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite.
China‘s dominance stems, in part, from trade partnerships with countries accused of using both slave and child labor. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, in particular, allegedly uses forced child labor to mine raw cobalt, which is then exported to China for processing.
Beijing processes those critical minerals, turning them into electric vehicle batteries in its Xinjiang province, where the communist regime has been accused of violating the human rights of hundreds of thousands of Uyghur Muslims.
“By relying on these nations for our minerals our electric vehicle industry is built on slave labor,” said Mr. Gosar. “Many will stand up here today and applaud the commitment to a cleaner future, completely ignoring the role of slave and human labor in achieving this future because it is not in America.”
Given Beijing’s control of the electric vehicle supply chain and its ties to human-rights abuses, Republicans sought to amend the spending package to ensure federal tax dollars don’t go to underwrite the communist power.