Last week, U.S. Reps. Scott Franklin, R-Fla., and Seth Moulton, D-Mass., led a letter urging the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations to revive funding for the National Defense Stockpile of rare earth materials, which is currently at low levels.
Established during World War II, the National Defense Stockpile (NDS) ensures that the Department of Defense can access key materials necessary to maintain readiness in the event of a major supply chain disruption. It includes resources like titanium, aluminum, tungsten, rubber and cobalt. China currently produces more than 60 percent of the world’s rare earth element output.
In a letter sent to House Appropriations Committee leadership, Moulton and Franklin wrote: “Material shortfalls in the NDS pose a critical vulnerability to US national security… In order to recapitalize the National Defense Stockpile, we urge you to support the President’s Budget request for $254 million for the National Defense Stockpile Transaction Fund in FY23.”
Despite its increasing importance to U.S. national security, the NDS Transaction Fund is quickly approaching insolvency. Since the end of the Cold War, Congress has authorized the sale of the majority of the NDS’s stockpiled materials.
The total value of the stockpiled inventory has dropped from $9.6 billion in 1989 ($21.9 billion adjusted for inflation) to $888 million in 2021.
“Maintaining America’s military edge over adversaries like Russia and China requires critical resources to produce the latest in weapons technology, especially in the case of supply chain disruptions like we have experienced during the global pandemic,” said Franklin. “Our military should not be dependent on the very adversaries we are preparing to defend ourselves from.”
“America can no longer be content to rely on other countries for resources that are essential to our military and technological edge,” said Moulton. “The post-Cold War sell-offs of the National Defense Stockpile are no longer appropriate—and now they are dangerous. Bolstering funding for the NDS will ensure that China and Russia will not dictate where, when, or how we access important critical minerals.”
Among the co-signers were U.S. Reps. Madison Cawthron, R-NC, Liz Cheney, R-Wy., Greg Pence, R-Ind., and Michael Waltz, R-Fla.
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