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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 RomneyDemocratic centrists flex power on Biden legislation Ron Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many Romney's TRUST Act is a Trojan Horse to cut seniors' benefits 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 PerryRepublicans see Becerra as next target in confirmation wars OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Five things to know about Texas's strained electric grid | Biden honeymoon with green groups faces tests | Electric vehicles are poised to aid Biden in climate fight Five things to know about Texas's strained electric grid MORE and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenLeft-leaning group to track which companies hire former top Trump aides Rosenstein: Zero tolerance immigration policy 'never should have been proposed or implemented' House Republican condemns anti-Trump celebrities during impeachment hearing 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 BurrRick Scott caught in middle of opposing GOP factions Bipartisan bill would ban lawmakers from buying, selling stocks Republicans, please save your party MORE (R-N.C.) and the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships On The Money: Senate votes to take up COVID-19 relief bill | Stocks sink after Powell fails to appease jittery traders | February jobs report to provide first measure of Biden economy Senators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China MORE (Va.).

It was also signed by Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate holds longest vote in history as Democrats scramble to save relief bill Biden helps broker Senate deal on unemployment benefits Overnight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels MORE (Texas), the former No. 2 GOP senator, and Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDemocrats worry Senate will be graveyard for Biden agenda Pro-Choice Caucus asks Biden to remove abortion fund restrictions from 2022 budget China has already infiltrated America's institutions MORE (D-Calif.), a former Intelligence chairwoman.

Others who signed on to the letter were Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioHillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships Senators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China DeSantis's rising GOP profile fuels 2024 talk MORE (R-Fla.), Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonDeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Republicans blast Pentagon policy nominee over tweets, Iran nuclear deal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Lawmakers face Capitol threat as senators line up votes for relief bill MORE (R-Ark.), Ben SasseBen SasseSenators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China Garland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks Republicans, please save your party MORE (R-Neb.), Jim RischJim Elroy RischMurkowski votes with Senate panel to advance Haaland nomination 11 GOP senators slam Biden pick for health secretary: 'No meaningful experience' Biden to redirect .4M in aid to Myanmar, sanction key military figures MORE (R-Idaho), Angus KingAngus KingThe eight Democrats who voted 'no' on minimum wage Justice Democrats call moderates' votes against minimum wage hike 'unconscionable' Senate rejects Sanders minimum wage hike MORE (I-Maine) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate rejects Sanders minimum wage hike Murkowski votes with Senate panel to advance Haaland nomination OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Interior reverses Trump policy that it says restricted science | Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination | Republicans press Biden environment nominee on Obama-era policy 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.”