Dems demand SEC implement conflict mineral rule

Democrats told Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairwoman Mary Jo White to require reporting on the source of conflict minerals from Congo.

As part of Dodd-Frank, lawmakers added a provision requiring U.S. companies to disclose if they use certain minerals mined in Congo as part of their SEC filings so consumers know which companies source minerals responsibly and which are perpetuating violence in the region.

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“This SEC rule was drafted in a balanced and thoughtful way that followed Congressional intent in trying to provide greater transparency in the use of key minerals that fuel horrific violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),” Democratic lawmakers wrote in a letter to White sent on Tuesday.

Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Ed Markey (Mass.) and Reps. Jim McDermott (Wash.), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Raul Grijalva (Ariz.), Jim Moran (Va.), John Lewis (Ga.) and Gwen Moore (Wis.) signed the letter.

Earlier this month, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld most of the SEC conflict mineral rule, which says companies must file their information to the SEC by May 31, 2014. It is still being debated as to whether the companies will be forced to publicly display the information on their websites.

“With strong court decisions affirming the key components of the rule, no delay is warranted in the implementation of those requirements while any remaining free speech issues are resolved,” the lawmakers wrote. “We urge the SEC to continue implementation of this rule in light of the judicial validation of both the underlying statute and the SEC’s promulgated rule.”

Conflict minerals are commonly used in the manufacturing of cellphones, jewelry and airplanes. The goal of the rule is to prevent companies from buying these minerals from armed militant groups that kill and rape people in Congo and its neighboring countries.