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Cobalt bill gets bipartisan buy-in

Apr 17, 2024
Cobalt mine in the Congo

Women and children work at a cobalt mine in Congo. Photo: Augustin Wamenya/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

House Ways and Means approved a bill targeting foreign cobalt for EVs with a handful of Democratic supporters.

Why it matters: With bipartisan buy-in, it'll be hard for the EV sector to paint this as purely a GOP attack on the energy transition.

Driving the news: The committee approved, 30–12, a bill that would require a federal investigation into forced and child labor at cobalt mining sites in Congo.

  • Multiple Democratic lawmakers voted in favor of the bill, including Don Beyer, Brad Schneider and Suzan DelBene.

Zoom in: Chairman Jason Smith told lawmakers the legislation was required for the country to block imports of cobalt tainted with these human rights issues. Otherwise the action against imports could be struck down in court.

Between the lines: This explains why the committee didn't take up other bills introduced by Chris Smith that would've actually inhibited the importation of DRC cobalt and materials with Congolese metal.

  • Chris Smith also wrote the bill approved today.

Yes, but: Other Democrats voted against the bill because it didn't actually block imports and was focused only on cobalt.

  • To wit, Republicans voted down an amendment from Gwen Moore that would've expanded the investigation to include copper and other EV metals.

What's next: The committee is also considering legislation targeting metal supply chains for EVs, with big implications for the IRA.

  • We'll be updating you on those bills in tomorrow's newsletter as the markup is ongoing (and when we have scoopy intel).
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