Lawmakers join fight over conflict minerals regulation

A dozen current and former members of Congress are defending part of the Wall Street reform law that they say is helping to stop violence in central Africa.

The lawmakers are defending a provision of the Dodd-Frank Act that requires the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to write regulations making companies publish information about whether the minerals they use are funding violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This week, they filed a court brief defending the SEC from business complaints that the requirement is too complicated and violates the First Amendment by forcing them to post information online.   

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“We understand that implementing these rules is difficult and involves a new way of doing business for big companies,” Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “But we felt and continue to feel that those challenges are worth it to protect the human and labor rights of very vulnerable individuals in remote areas of the world, particularly the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

Purchase of so-called “conflict minerals” like gold, tin and tungsten, which appear in a variety of products, helps fund armed groups that control mines in central Africa.   

According to the Democratic lawmakers, Americans deserve to know whether the products they buy are supporting violence.

“Hopefully, it will also create transparency that consumers and investors deserve,” said Rep. Jim McDermottJames (Jim) Adelbert McDermottSondland has 'no intention of resigning,' associate says Three women accuse Gordon Sondland of sexual misconduct Portland hotel chain founded by Trump ambassador says boycott is attack on employees MORE (D-Wash.).

Democrats say that the provision has already yielded results in the central African nation, where thousands of tons of clean minerals are now being produced.

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Republicans and opponents of the regulation disagree. They point to signs that the de facto embargo of Congolese minerals has hurt the country’s economy and only led to more violence.

In July, a federal judge rejected a challenge to the rule from business groups including the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The case is now pending before the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Joining McDermott and Engel on the brief are Sens. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerBottom line Polls show big bounce to Biden ahead of Super Tuesday Sanders poised for big Super Tuesday MORE (D-Calif.), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinHillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats Overnight Defense: Democrats blast Trump handling of Russian bounty intel | Pentagon leaders set for House hearing July 9 | Trump moves forward with plan for Germany drawdown Democrats, voting rights groups pressure Senate to approve mail-in voting resources MORE (D-Ill.), Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyGOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday The Hill's Campaign Report: Jacksonville mandates face coverings as GOP convention approaches Steyer endorses Markey in Massachusetts Senate primary MORE (D-Mass.), Reps. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), John Lewis (D-Ga.), Gwen MooreGwen Sophia MooreBiden campaign adds staff in three battleground states On The Money: Dow plunges more than 1,800 points as rising COVID-19 cases roil Wall Street | Trump rips Fed after Powell warns of 'long road' to recovery Nursing homes under scrutiny after warnings of seized stimulus checks MORE (D-Wisc.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and former Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.).