By KEVIN DERBY
With tensions continuing to linger with China, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., last week looked to push back with a bill to help stop American dependence on that nation for mining and rare metals.
Rubio showcased his “RE-Coop 21st Century Manufacturing Act” on Thursday. The bill, according to Rubio’s office, “would establish a privately funded, operated, and managed Rare Earth Refinery Cooperative responsible for coordinating the establishment of a fully integrated domestic rare earth value chain to serve U.S. national security interests and restore American competitiveness of critical advanced manufacturing industries.”
The Florida Republican stressed that many electronic devices — including computers and monitors — rely on rare earths from China. Rubio also pointed to China putting in temporary rare earth export embargo almost a decade ago, something which could be reimposed if tensions with the U.S. on trade continue.
“As the Chinese government and Communist Party aggressively subsidize and invest in their own economy at our expense, we must shift our policies to restore the competitiveness of critical American industries for the 21st century,” Rubio said. “Beijing’s mercantilist tactics have contributed to a market failure for the development of rare earth resources, both in the United States and around the world. Continued U.S. dependence on China for the mining and processing of rare earths and the manufacture of those metals into useful products is untenable — it threatens our national security, limits our economic productivity, and robs working-class Americans of future opportunities for dignified work.
“The RE-Coop 21st Century Manufacturing Act is a crucial ingredient for the resurgence of America’s advanced manufacturing sector by allowing domestic industries to regain competitiveness and break China’s control over the global rare earth value chain,” Rubio continued. “We can’t beat China by playing their game, which is why this bill harnesses the American cooperative model as a time-tested way to correct for failed markets without relying on heavy-handed federal intervention. We are in a geopolitical competition that will determine the future prosperity of our nation, and it is long overdue for the U.S. government to act like it in every phase of our work for the American people.”