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To Counter China’s Dominance of Critical Minerals, Ernst, Manchin Seek to Bolster America’s Supply, Protect National Security

Their bipartisan HARD ROCK Act refocuses America’s strategic stockpile to include critical minerals to meet modern-day defense needs and secures stable access to them through our allies and partners worldwide.

To counteract China’s growing dominance of the global supply chain of critical minerals, U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, are pushing to bolster the U.S. supply of critical minerals, move toward ending our nation’s dependence on China, and protect America’s national security interests.

The senators are introducing the HARD ROCK Act, or the Homeland Acceleration of Recovering Deposits and Renewing Onshore Critical Keystones Act. The bipartisan legislation would refocus the U.S. National Defense Stockpile (NDS) to ensure our nation is securing the strategic and critical materials we need to meet our national security demands for the modern era and push the Pentagon to work with our partners and allies worldwide to ensure stable access to these minerals.


“America’s defense in the modern era increasingly demands the use of critical minerals, making it more essential by the day for our nation to have a sufficient stockpile of and reliable access to these materials,” said Senator Joni Ernst, a combat veteran. “At this very moment, our enemies like China dominate the supply chain of these increasingly vital materials, and are even expanding into regions such as Africa and Afghanistan, threatening our readiness in an emergency situation and jeopardizing our national security. It’s past time we take seriously the risk we face if we fail to make important investments in securing critical and strategic minerals immediately, which is why I’m pleased to partner with Senator Manchin to do exactly that.”

 “America is blessed with an abundance of natural resources that can help us address our reliance on foreign supply chains for critical minerals. I am proud to introduce our bipartisan HARD ROCK Act which would strengthen U.S. critical mineral infrastructure and invest in domestic defense and technological capabilities,” said Senator Manchin, Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “By addressing the weaknesses in our current National Defense Stockpile, our bill will bolster American critical mineral independence and help ensure we have the resources we need for essential defense products and services. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this crucial legislation.”

The Department of Defense (DoD) is required to maintain a stockpile of critical and strategic materials known as the National Defense Stockpile (NDS), which in times of war or national emergencies is used to provide defense and essential civilian manufacturers with immediate access to the raw materials required to produce such goods. Right now, when it comes to certain strategic and critical minerals, the United States is simply insufficiently developed to meet military and essential civilian needs. According to a Congressional Research Service report from 2019, the U.S. was 100 percent import-reliant on 14 minerals on the critical minerals list and more than 75 percent import-reliant on 10 other critical minerals.

 Ernst’s and Manchin’s HARD ROCK Act gives the NDS manager the authority to acquire an updated list of strategic and critical minerals that reflects the U.S.’s modern defense needs. It also requires DoD to examine potential updates of statutory authority for broad collaboration with our partners and allies to ensure stable access to critical and strategic materials.

 The HARD ROCK Act is cosponsored by Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Angus King (I-Maine), and Rick Scott (R-Fla.).


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