Dem lawmaker warns of 'security risks' in awarding DC infrastructure contracts to state-owned firms

Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden officials brace for worst despite vaccine data Political fireworks fuel DC statehood hearing Democrats vow to go 'bold' — with or without GOP MORE (D-Md.) told Hill.TV there are security risks involved with awarding contracts to state-owned companies to build transportation infrastructure in the Washington, D.C., area.

"Whoever gets this contract is going to have access to the tunnels and the whole underground infrastructure of the whole U.S. government — everything from the Capitol, the Congress, to the Pentagon, the State Department, all over the Washington area," Raskin told host Krystal Ball in a "Rising" interview that aired Thursday on Hill.TV.

"We saw, of course, in 2016 with the Russian cyber surveillance and sabotage of our election campaign how vulnerable we can be in the new cyber age to bad actors from abroad," he added. "We just want to make sure whoever gets that contract is not going to be using their access to our basic infrastructure here in order to surveil and sabotage and get secrets and so on. We just want to make sure we're being attentive to the security risks involved."

Raskin is one of several D.C.-area lawmakers who requested that the House Appropriations Committee require that any grants to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority be contingent upon Metro certifying that it will not award any contracts to state-owned corporations.

China's state-owned Railway Rolling Stock Corp.'s (CRRC) recent move to get involved in the U.S. rail industry has worried some lawmakers and D.C. officials about cybersecurity issues.

The Chinese company has manufactured rail cars for transit systems in Los Angeles and Chicago.

The Washington Post reported last month that some experts have warned China could use transit rail cars to carry out cyber espionage. CRRC called that suggestion “ludicrous,” according to the Post.

— Julia Manchester