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July 5, 2016

House Financial Services Committee Calls For Conflict Minerals Repeal

On June 23, Republicans on the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services released the Financial CHOICE Act, discussion draft of a proposal to repeal and replace several provisions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill. The draft, which is not a formal piece of legislation, calls for repeal of the law’s conflict minerals provision, which requires public companies to disclose whether and how they source “conflict minerals” (tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold) from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and nine neighboring countries. 

The Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI) repeatedly has called for repeal of the conflict minerals provision and is very pleased with its inclusion in the committee’s discussion document. 

Calling the conflict minerals requirement “confusing,” the committee argues, as MSCI has, that “there is overwhelming evidence that Dodd-Frank’s conflict minerals disclosure requirement has done far more harm than good to its intended beneficiaries – the citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo and neighboring Central African countries.” The report also argues that the provision is unconstitutional and notes U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Mary Jo White “has conceded the [SEC] is not the appropriate agency to carry out humanitarian policy.” The committee concluded, “The provisions of Title XV of the Dodd-Frank Act are a prime example of the increasing use of the federal securities laws as a cudgel to force public companies to disclose extraneous political, social, and environmental matters in their periodic filings.” 

The committee’s full arguments against the rule can be found here by clicking on the “comprehensive” summary link. 

Unfortunately, according to Chemical Watch, House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) does not think there is much chance that Congress will pass the Financial CHOICE Act this year. In a speech at the Economic Club of New York earlier this month, however, the chairman noted that “we have an election coming up here in November” and that he hopes to advance Dodd-Frank repeal in 2017 if he is still chairman of the committee.