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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 BoxerTrump administration halting imports of cotton, tomatoes from Uighur region of China Biden inaugural committee to refund former senator's donation due to foreign agent status Questions and answers about the Electoral College challenges MORE (D-Calif.), Dick DurbinDick DurbinBiden officials hold call with bipartisan group of senators on coronavirus relief plan Harry Reid 'not particularly optimistic' Biden will push to eliminate filibuster Durbin: Senate should consider changes to filibuster MORE (D-Ill.), Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyBiden expands on Obama ethics pledge Democrats shoot down McConnell's filibuster gambit Biden signs executive order invoking 2-year lobbying ban for appointees MORE (D-Mass.), Reps. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), John Lewis (D-Ga.), Gwen MooreGwen Sophia MooreMcMorris Rodgers floats vacating Speaker's chair over Democrat's in-person vote after COVID diagnosis House approves rules package for new Congress Top House Appropriations Republican tests COVID-19 positive MORE (D-Wisc.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and former Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.).