By Ramsey Cox
Sen. John Walsh (D-Mont.) said Tuesday that he wants the Obama administration to stop buying Chinese materials that are then used to make U.S. weapons.
“I am deeply concerned by recent reports that, despite being prohibited by federal law, many U.S military aircraft and weapons systems contain both rare earth elements mined in China, and raw materials manufactured in China,” Walsh wrote in a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. “The United States’ increasing reliance on foreign suppliers for rare earth and raw materials weakens both our economy and our national defense apparatus.”
“It is reckless and inexcusable to use materials from China when we have them right here in the U.S.,” Walsh wrote. “We need to protect our security interest, and can do so while also creating jobs at home. It’s time for our government to rely on American resources and labor instead of making more investments [in] China.”
The Department of Defense is allowed to grant waivers to weapons contractors if the materials needed aren’t from the United States. But Walsh said rare earth materials used in some fighter jets and missiles are available in his home state of Montana.
“The Department of Defense should be using as much American-produced materials as possible, supporting thousands of jobs,” the letter stated. “I look forward to working with the Department of Defense, the Administration and other agencies to protect U.S. national security interests by developing a long-term strategy to ensure rare earth and other raw materials are mined and manufactured in the United States.”