Key senators say administration should ban Huawei tech in US electric grid

Key senators say administration should ban Huawei tech in US electric grid
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A group of powerful senators that includes the bipartisan leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee and Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm Liberal think tank: GOP paid parental leave proposals are too narrow Romney won't say if Trump's attacks against minority lawmakers are racist MORE (Utah), the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, are pressing the Trump administration to ban the use of Huawei technologies in order to protect U.S. infrastructure.

In the letter sent Monday to Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerrySenior Trump administration official to leave post next week Overnight Energy: Trump doesn't mention climate change in speech touting environmental policies | Green groups fight EPA's new FOIA rule | Trump emissions rollback hit with legal challenge Trump touts environmental policies, but says nothing of climate change MORE and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele Nielsen Trump's family separation policy has taken US to 'lowest depth possible,' says former immigration lawyer Four heated moments from House hearing on conditions at border facilities Chuck Todd on administration vacancies: 'Is this any way to run a government?' MORE, the 11 senators said a ban should be considered to protect U.S. utilities and the power grid.

“We understand that Huawei, the world’s largest manufacturer of solar inverters, is attempting to access our domestic residential and commercial markets,” the letter states. “Congress recently acted to block Huawei from our telecommunications equipment market due to concerns with the company’s links to China’s intelligence services. We urge similar action to protect critical U.S. electrical systems and infrastructure.”

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The letter was signed by Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrTop North Carolina newspapers editorial board to GOP: 'Are you OK with a racist president?' Hillicon Valley: Senate bill would force companies to disclose value of user data | Waters to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency | GOP divided on election security bills | US tracking Russian, Iranian social media campaigns GOP senators divided over approach to election security MORE (R-N.C.) and the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand On The Money: Fed chief warns of 'unthinkable' harm if debt ceiling breached | Powell basks in bipartisan praise amid Trump attacks | Federal deficit jumps to 7 billion Fed chief basks in bipartisan praise as lawmakers dismiss Trump attacks MORE (Va.).

It was also signed by Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm GOP struggles to find backup plan for avoiding debt default Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (Texas), the former No. 2 GOP senator, and Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinThe peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff Dem senators demand GOP judicial group discloses donors Senate Democrats skipping Pence's border trip MORE (D-Calif.), a former Intelligence chairwoman.

Others who signed on to the letter were Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioLiberal think tank: GOP paid parental leave proposals are too narrow GOP senator: 'Outrageous' to say Trump's tweets about Democratic congresswomen are racist House passes bills to boost small business cybersecurity MORE (R-Fla.), Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonFive things to know about Iran's breaches of the nuclear deal Hillicon Valley: Trump gets pushback after reversing course on Huawei | China installing surveillance apps on visitors' phones | Internet provider Cloudflare suffers outage | Consumer groups look to stop Facebook cryptocurrency The Hill's Morning Report - Harris, Warren rise and Biden tumbles after debates MORE (R-Ark.), Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseAcosta on shaky ground as GOP support wavers Some good advice for Democrats to ignore in 2020 Swing-state Democrats see trouble in proposed pay hike MORE (R-Neb.), Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischThis week: House Democrats voting to hold Barr, Ross in contempt Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid Overnight Defense: House approves 3 billion defense bill | Liberal sweeteners draw progressive votes | Bill includes measure blocking Trump from military action on Iran MORE (R-Idaho), Angus KingAngus Stanley KingFive things to watch for at Defense nominee's confirmation hearing Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (I-Maine) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm GOP senator: 'Outrageous' to say Trump's tweets about Democratic congresswomen are racist Fox personalities blast Trump's remarks MORE (R-Maine).

The senators said the federal government should consider a ban on Huawei technology from being used within U.S. electric utilities, “and work with state and local regulators to raise awareness and mitigate potential threats.”

“We urge you to work with all federal, state and local regulators, as well as the hundreds of independent power producers and electricity distributors nation-wide to ensure our systems are protected,” the letter reads. “We stand ready and willing to provide any assistance you need to secure our critical electricity infrastructure.”

Lawmakers and officials have raised concerns about the potential national security threat that Huawei poses to the U.S., citing the influence the Chinese government reportedly has on the company.

Federal prosecutors recently unsealed a pair of indictments against the telecom giant, alleging theft of intellectual property and violation of sanctions against Iran. And U.S. officials are seeking the extradition of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou from Canada, where she was arrested last year at the request of American authorities.

The call for action also comes after the Senate Energy Natural Resources Committee held a hearing earlier this month on cyber threats to the energy industry.

During the hearing, King — one of the signatories for Monday’s letter — asked James Robb, the president and CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), which regulates electric grids in North America, whether there was any technology from Huawei, Chinese telecommunication firm ZTE or the Russian firm Kaspersky Labs used in U.S. electric systems.

Robb said that his organization had issued an alert on the technology but that he didn’t know if any U.S. utilities used ZTE, Huawei or Kaspersky equipment.

“Have you surveyed any of the utilities to determine that?” King asked.

“I don’t believe we have,” Robb replied.

“I think that would be a good idea, don’t you?” the senator asked, to which Robb said he would “take that on.”