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Keep Child and Slave Labor Sourced Electric Vehicles Out of U.S. Military, Ernst Says

Ernst’s measure prohibits child and slave labor for component sourcing and prevents DOD from contracting to procure an all-electric NTV fleet until a risk report is completed.

WASHINGTON – As the Biden administration presses ahead with a climate agenda to switch the military’s non-tactical vehicles (NTV) to an all-electric fleet, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a combat veteran and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, successfully led a bipartisan push in the Senate’s annual defense bill to prohibit electric vehicle (EV) component sourcing from any entity that uses child or slave labor. Ernst included a requirement that the Pentagon first verify that the EVs are not made from materials sourced with child and slave labor and to examine the national security risks involved in the transition to an all-EV fleet.

“Sourcing U.S. military equipment from Communist China and slave and child labor is completely unacceptable,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “My bipartisan measure in the Senate defense bill prevents the Pentagon from procuring any electric vehicle component that was mined or assembled by child or slave labor, and from investing billions of taxpayer money into an all-electric fleet until they can ensure Congress, and the American people, the supply chain to transition the fleet is not risking our national security.” 

Ernst partnered with Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to insert bipartisan language into the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the annual defense bill, the FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The provision prohibits the Department of Defense (DOD) from entering into an indefinite-delivery, indefinite quality (IDIQ) contract to replace the non-tactical vehicle fleet until a report is delivered to the House and Senate Armed Services detailing the following:

  1. Cost associated with replacing the 170,000 NTVs with electric NTVs
  2. Cost associated with building the required infrastructure to support (charging stations, electric grid requirements)
  3. Cost comparison of the life cycle and maintenance requirements of electric vehicles to combustion vehicles
  4. Assessment of the current and projected sourcing shortfalls for lithium, cobalt, and nickel from NATO and major non-NATO allies
  5. Assessment of the current and projected supply chain shortfalls
  6. Assessment of the effects this would have on the National Defense Stockpile
  7. Identification of components that are currently sourced from China

Approximately 60 percent of the global supply of cobalt emanates from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country where child labor persists. Cobalt is a key component of the electric car battery. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that 42% of U.S. companies involved in critical mineral mining and procurement had risks of forced labor within their supply chains.

In addition, China dominates the supply chain for the materials needed for these batteries—namely lithium, cobalt and spherical graphite.