NCPA to Hensarling: Do Not Underestimate the Dangerous Conflict Mineral Provision in Dodd-Frank

June 01, 2016

by David Grantham

On behalf of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), I am writing to express our support for your efforts to create a pro-growth, pro-consumer alternative to the Dodd-Frank Act. The NCPA is a non-profit, nonpartisan public policy research organization dedicated to developing and promoting private alternatives to government regulation and control. We do not endorse specific pieces of legislation. Nevertheless, we strongly support your Principles of Financial Opportunity, particularly those policies addressing the need for competition and the need for less regulatory complexity.

Tucked deep inside the Dodd-Frank Act is a small but important provision on conflict minerals. Much like your description of the entire bill as a monument to "arrogance and hubris," Section 1502 on conflict minerals reflects the same and should be tossed into "the trash heap of history."

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a former Belgian colony and second largest country in Africa, experienced a brutal, decade-long civil war during the 1990s that claimed millions of lives. The newly established DRC government told a handful of U.S. officials in 2007 that conflict lingered in the east because rebels funded their operations through the sale of minerals. That conversation gave birth to the idea of regulating conflict minerals. Legislation was introduced in Congress to force publicly-owned U.S. businesses to inspect their supply chains and declare the use of minerals sourced from the DRC, namely tungsten, tin, tantalum and gold. These minerals can be found in an assortment ofproducts like clothing, electronics and household goods. Advocacy groups and Hollywood elites pressured Congress to use Dodd-Frank as the vehicle to pass the stalled legislation. In the end, the U.S. response to a domestic mortgage crisis included this bizarre regulation aimed at the Congolese rebels and conflict minerals.

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