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Chris Smith claims cobalt bill progress

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Jan 11, 2024
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Illustration: Tiffany Herring/Axios

Rep. Chris Smith said he got a verbal commitment from Majority Leader Steve Scalise that his cobalt imports bill will come to the floor.

Why it matters: A full House vote on the battery sector's dirty cobalt could be a PR problem for EVs and consumer tech products, even if it doesn't become law.

Driving the news: Smith told Axios that Scalise pledged to bring up the bill — which would force a crackdown on Congolese cobalt — without specifying a date.

  • "I had a long conversation with him," Smith said. "He likes it a lot."
  • Smith's bill would prohibit imports of cobalt "mined using child or forced labor" using Section 307 of the 1930 Tariff Act.

Yes, but: Smith's been bullish on his bill ever since we were first to report on its introduction. But we're still waiting to hear back from Scalise's office to confirm this.

  • Moving Smith's bill through the House may require multiple committees to weigh in or waive their authorities, given the wide jurisdiction of its underlying policy changes.
  • Smith is revising the bill to put the onus on China, which also funds mining in Congo.

What's next: It feels unlikely we'll see this become a priority until after the House finishes its fights over funding and must-pass authorizations.

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