President Trump's acting budget chief is calling for a two-year delay of a ban that restricts the U.S. government from doing business with Chinese tech firm Huawei.
Acting director of the Office of Management and Budget Russ Vought sent a letter to Vice President Pence and nine members of Congress, urging them to hold off on implementing portions of a law that would effectively ban the tech giant from doing business with U.S. government agencies. He said the delay would give American companies more time to comply with the ban "without compromising desired security objectives."
The letter, dated June 4, was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Sunday. Vought is asking for a delay in implementing portions of the National Defense Authorization Act, which Trump signed last year. The legislation targets Huawei and other Chinese tech companies over national security concerns.
“While the Administration recognizes the importance of these prohibitions to national security, a number of agencies have heard significant concerns from a wide range of potentially impacted stakeholders who would be affected” by the rules as written, Vought wrote.
The Trump administration has taken multiple actions against Huawei over the past two years, citing national security concerns over the company's close ties to the Chinese government. U.S. companies have at times rallied against the various bans, pointing out that Huawei is the largest telecommunications equipment-maker in the world and has relationships with top American companies.
A spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) told The Hill that the letter does not represent a change in U.S. policy.
“There is not a change to administration policy with regard to Huawei and would not delay the ban taking effect this year on the federal government doing business with them,” OMB spokesman Jacob Wood said.
“It also would not stop or delay the restrictions Commerce announced on the sale of U.S. technology to Huawei," Wood added. "This is about ensuring that companies who do business with the U.S. government or receive federal grants and loans have time to extricate themselves from doing business with Huawei and other Chinese tech companies listed in the NDAA.”
The Hill has reached out to Huawei for comment. A company spokesman told the Journal that the company is "aware of the discussions and carefully watching the situation."
President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE signed an executive order last month declaring a "national emergency" that would empower his administration to block foreign tech companies from doing business in the U.S. if they are deemed a national security threat. The order is widely expected to hit Huawei, as the Trump administration has launched a global campaign to keep the Chinese telecom from helping U.S. allies develop next-generation wireless infrastructures.
The Department of Commerce also blacklisted Huawei in May, a move that barred U.S. firms from working with the company. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross shortly after said a temporary license would grant companies that rely on Huawei time to make other business arrangements after American-based tech giants complained that the ban would hurt their businesses.
--Updated at 10:35 a.m.