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 RomneyJon Huntsman expected to run for governor in Utah Trump Jr's 'Triggered' debuts at No. 1 on NY Times bestseller list Club for Growth extends advertising against House Dems over impeachment 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 PerryRick PerryOvernight Energy: Trump officials suspend oil, gas production on Utah plots after lawsuit | California bucks Trump on lightbulb rollback | Scientists join Dems in panning EPA's 'secret science' rule GOP counsel acknowledges 'irregular channel' between U.S. and Ukraine Live coverage: House holds first public impeachment hearing MORE and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenChad Wolf becomes acting DHS secretary Senate paves way for Trump's next DHS chief Divided Supreme Court leans toward allowing Trump to end DACA 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 BurrGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Graham: Senate trial 'must expose the whistleblower' GOP chairman says Senate impeachment trial could last 6-8 weeks MORE (R-N.C.) and the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal | Facebook reports millions of post takedowns | Microsoft shakes up privacy debate | Disney plus tops 10M sign-ups in first day Microsoft embraces California law, shaking up privacy debate Google sparks new privacy fears over health care data MORE (Va.).

It was also signed by Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Overnight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban Senate GOP waves Trump off early motion to dismiss impeachment charges MORE (Texas), the former No. 2 GOP senator, and Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate Democrats introduce Violence Against Women Act after bipartisan talks break down Harris shares video addressing staffers the night Trump was elected: 'This is some s---' Centrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda MORE (D-Calif.), a former Intelligence chairwoman.

Others who signed on to the letter were Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP senators plan to tune out impeachment week Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump Paul's demand to out whistleblower rankles GOP colleagues MORE (R-Fla.), Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonTom Cotton's only Democratic rival quits race in Arkansas Schumer concerned by Army's use of TikTok, other Chinese social media platforms Progressive freshmen jump into leadership PAC fundraising MORE (R-Ark.), Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseTrump circuit court nominee in jeopardy amid GOP opposition Trump has officially appointed one in four circuit court judges Senators press NSA official over shuttered phone surveillance program MORE (R-Neb.), Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischTrump holds chummy meeting with Turkey's Erdoğan Overnight Defense: Trump hosts Erdoğan at White House | Says Turkish leader has 'great relationship with the Kurds' | Highlights from first public impeachment hearing GOP senators to meet with Turkey's Erdoğan, Trump amid tensions MORE (R-Idaho), Angus KingAngus KingOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows by six members Senators fear Syria damage 'irreversible' after Esper, Milley briefing MORE (I-Maine) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsLawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Senate GOP waves Trump off early motion to dismiss impeachment charges GOP senators warn against Trump firing intelligence community official 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.”