House moves to bar Pentagon contracts with firms backing North Korean cyberattacks

House moves to bar Pentagon contracts with firms backing North Korean cyberattacks
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House lawmakers have voted to approve a provision that would bar the Pentagon from doing business with telecommunications firms knowingly supporting North Korean cyberattacks. 

The amendment, offered by Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.), was approved Friday morning by the full House to be included in an annual defense policy bill. 

Specifically, the provision would prohibit the Pentagon from doing business with telecommunications firms found “to have knowingly assisted or facilitated a cyberattack carried out by or on behalf of the government” of North Korea or individuals associated with the government.

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Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsNational counterterrorism chief to retire at the end of year Former intel chief Hayden: Think twice on a Trump job offer Counterintelligence needs reboot for 21st century MORE would be required within 30 days of the law’s enactment to make a list of the telecommunications contractors associated with North Korean cyberattacks. 

The amendment does, however, give President Trump the authority to waive the prohibition for a national security justification.

During a speech on the House floor, Pittenger positioned the provision as a way to crack down on Chinese firms knowingly supporting North Korean aggression.

“While my amendment is simple in nature, it strikes to the heart of what I believe to be the cornerstone of North Korea policy,” Pittenger said Friday morning. “For far too long, China has enabled the North Korean government to pursue nuclear development, global provocation and egregious human rights violations.” 

“My amendment is one of many steps that Congress needs to take to demonstrate to China that we will no longer tolerate its alliance and partnership with North Korea,” he said. 

Lawmakers agreed to the amendment by a voice vote along with a slate of others Friday morning while debating the House version of the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

The House is expected to conclude its debate on the annual defense policy bill on Friday. 

Meanwhile, the Senate has yet to take up its version of the bill, which migrated out of the Armed Services Committee at the end of last month. 

Both chambers will need to reconcile the differences in the dual versions of the annual legislation before sending the bill to the president.

Pittenger told The Hill earlier this week that he expected the provision to have broad support in the Senate as well.

“I think it will be in good shape,” he said.

North Korea's cyber capabilities have been in the spotlight since the 2014 Sony Pictures hack, which the U.S. government traced to hackers associated with Pyongyang.