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 RomneyOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Missouri man latest to die of vaping-related illness Senators draft bipartisan bill to ban flavored e-cigarettes 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 PerryGas prices could rise 15 to 30 cents following Saudi attack Trump envoy presses Saudi Arabia to allow nuclear inspections Perry confident energy market 'will rebound positively' after Saudi oil attack MORE and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenPence taps former DHS spokeswoman as his new press secretary DHS officials called lawmaker visit to migrant detention facility a 'Hill stunt' White House fires DHS general counsel 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 BurrLawmakers applaud Trump's ban on flavored e-cigarettes Trump to hold campaign rally in North Carolina day before special House election Hoekstra emerges as favorite for top intelligence post MORE (R-N.C.) and the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg courts critics on Capitol Hill | Amazon makes climate pledge | Senate panel approves 0M for state election security Zuckerberg woos Washington critics during visit Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers to discuss 'future internet regulation' MORE (Va.).

It was also signed by Sen. John CornynJohn CornynZuckerberg woos Washington critics during visit Paul objection snags confirmation of former McConnell staffer GOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan MORE (Texas), the former No. 2 GOP senator, and Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGOP's Kennedy sends warning shot to Trump nominee Menashi Democratic senators quietly hope Biden wins over rivals Grassley: Kavanaugh classmate didn't contact Senate panel MORE (D-Calif.), a former Intelligence chairwoman.

Others who signed on to the letter were Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTrump faces difficult balancing act with reelection campaign Republicans wary of US action on Iran California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE (R-Fla.), Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonZuckerberg woos Washington critics during visit Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers to discuss 'future internet regulation' 2020 Democrats raise alarm about China's intellectual property theft MORE (R-Ark.), Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseManufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank The Hill's Morning Report - Trump ousts Bolton; GOP exhales after win in NC Trump endorses Sasse in 2020 race MORE (R-Neb.), Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischIssa's Senate confirmation hearing delayed over concerns about background check Overnight Defense: GOP wary of action on Iran | Pence says US 'locked and loaded' to defend allies | Iran's leader rules out talks with US Republicans wary of US action on Iran MORE (R-Idaho), Angus KingAngus Stanley KingOvernight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine Democrats grill Army, Air Force nominees on military funding for border wall Bipartisan panel to issue recommendations for defending US against cyberattacks early next year MORE (I-Maine) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan Sinema touts bipartisan record as Arizona Democrats plan censure vote The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico 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.”