As the United States starts to slowly restart its economic engine, Republican lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are getting to work on ways to end American dependence on China.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced legislation this week that would allow companies in the U.S. to harvest rare earth minerals. Currently, American companies do not have domestic supply chains for rare earths, which are crucial to a number of technological and military products.
"Over the last few decades the Chinese government worked with their companies to systematically drive competitors out of the market, and centralize the supply chain in China," Cruz's office released in a statement about the legislation. "The ORE Act is designed to reduce U.S. dependence on China and establish a supply chain for rare earth elements and critical minerals in the U.S. Specifically, the legislation 1) provides tax incentives for the rare earths industry, including expanding and making permanent full-expensing provisions in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, 2) requires the DOD to source rare earth minerals and critical elements from the U.S., and 3) establishes grants for pilot programs to develop these materials in the U.S."
In late 2017, the Interior Department was directed by President Trump to research and list the different kinds of usable rare earth minerals that exist in the United States. They came up with 17.
"The most important long term national security and foreign policy consequence of this coronavirus pandemic is going to be a fundamental reassessment of the United States' relationship with China. I believe China is the most significant geopolitical threat to the United States for the next century, and I have been saying that for years," Senator Cruz said about the bill. "Many in Washington have not been interested in hearing it or have refused to listen. I think this coronavirus pandemic has opened the eyes of many in Congress, many in Washington, and even some in the media."