GOP lawmaker: UK-Huawei deal could force US to 'reexamine' intelligence-sharing partnership

Rep. Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherCongress has a shot at correcting Trump's central mistake on cybersecurity Cheney battle raises questions about House GOP's future House-passed defense spending bill includes provision establishing White House cyber czar MORE (R-Wis.) warned Tuesday that the United Kingdom’s decision to allow Chinese telecom giant Huawei to be part of its 5G network could force the U.S. to “fundamentally reexamine” a key intelligence-sharing partnership with the country.

“It will force legislatures and members of the executive branch to fundamentally reexamine our intelligence-sharing partnership with the UK and that would be incredibly regrettable because that relationship has paid dividends in recent years,” Gallagher told Hill.TV in reference to the deal.

Gallagher pointed to a multilateral intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Though the U.K. has said it will prevent Huawei's equipment from being used in sensitive parts of its networks, he argued that it “calls into question all of the information” that the U.S. is sharing with its closest ally.

“It is very concerning — I hope that Prime Minister Johnson does not allow this to go forward,” he said.

Gallagher’s remarks come after the U.K. government announced that Huawei would have a “limited role" in building its new 5G data network, despite warnings from the U.S. to ban the company from its networks.

The U.K.’s National Security Council (NSC) said Tuesday that it would allow a presence of “no more than 35 percent’” of equipment from high risk vendors like Huawei.

The U.S. has long considered the China-based company a security risk, and the move has already drawn pushback from Republican lawmakers.

Prior to the NSC’s decision, Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPPP application window closes after coronavirus talks deadlock  The Hill's Campaign Report: US officials say Russia, China are looking to sow discord in election US intelligence says Russia seeking to 'denigrate' Biden MORE (R-Fla.), John CornynJohn CornynCOVID-19 bill limiting liability would strike the wrong balance From a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters Skepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal MORE (R-Texas), and Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonOn The Trail: Pence's knives come out Sunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline MORE (R-Ark.) sent joint letters to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and all other NSC members urging them to vote against allowing Huawei any involvement in British 5G networks.

Gallagher noted the impact of the decision could have also an impact on a future U.S.-U.K. free trade agreement. He said he hopes that U.S. officials will impose "some maximum economic pressure" on Huawei and fellow China-based telecom giant ZTE.

“We’ve taken some measures but we keep granting exceptions for U.S. companies to do business with these companies,” he said. “It’s far past time for us to not grand those exceptions and potentially consider putting Huawei on a treasury special-designated national list, which would really cut off their access to the U.S. banking system.”

Though the U.S. has eased trade restrictions on Huawei, the House in December passed a bipartisan bill that would bar the government from buying telecommunications equipment from companies like Huawei that are deemed to be national security threats. The legislation passed unanimously and is now awaiting consideration in the Senate.

—Tess Bonn