Lawmakers introduce measure to freeze out Huawei from financial system

Lawmakers introduce measure to freeze out Huawei from financial system
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Lawmakers in the House and Senate on Thursday introduced legislation to effectively freeze out Chinese telecom group Huawei from the U.S. financial system.

The Networks Act would require the president to add foreign 5G equipment manufacturers to the Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list if the companies engage in espionage against the U.S. sanctions violations. 

The primary concern cited by lawmakers around Huawei has been a 2017 Chinese intelligence law that requires Chinese companies and citizens to participate in state espionage activities if requested. American prosecutors also recently charged Huawei with conspiracy to commit racketeering, which followed previous charges of stealing intellectual property, wire fraud and obstruction of justice.

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Placing a company on the SDN list effectively freezes it out from accessing the American financial system. Companies and individuals currently on the list include Iranian banks, Russian oligarchs and drug traffickers. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerIn the next relief package Congress must fund universal COVID testing Ocasio-Cortez's 2nd grade teacher tells her 'you've got this' ahead of DNC speech New poll shows Markey with wide lead over Kennedy in Massachusetts MORE (D-N.Y.), one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a statement that “China-based companies like Huawei cooperate heavily with the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government in political and economic espionage.”

“Allowing China to dominate global 5G networks threatens America’s national security,” Schumer added. “It is time for the Trump administration to take swift and forceful action to block Huawei from accessing the U.S. financial system.”

The legislation would also limit the ability of U.S. companies to do business with or interact with Huawei. Transactions with Huawei involving existing equipment for 3G or 4G networks would be exempt from the limitations so as not to interfere with telecom networks. 

Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonRussian news agency pushed video of Portland protestors burning a Bible: report Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump China sanctioning Rubio, Cruz in retaliatory move over Hong Kong MORE (R-Ark.), the lead Senate sponsor, said it was “time to sanction Huawei,” pointing to Chinese companies stealing American intellectual property.

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Rep. Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherHillicon Valley: 'Fortnite' owner sues Apple after game is removed from App Store | Federal agencies seize, dismantle cryptocurrency campaigns of major terrorist organizations Lawmakers introduce bill designating billion to secure state and local IT systems Congress has a shot at correcting Trump's central mistake on cybersecurity MORE (R-Wis.), the lead House sponsor of the legislation, said in a statement that “we need a full court press against malevolent actors like Huawei.”

Other sponsors of the legislation in the House and Senate include Reps. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyGOP leaders go into attack mode against Harris Republicans fear disaster in November Gaetz set to endorse primary opponent of fellow Florida GOP lawmaker MORE (R-Wyo.), Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoHispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden's latest plan on racial inequality Overnight Energy: Official says protesters not cleared from Lafayette Square for Trump | Trump administration blasts banks refusing to fund Arctic drilling | 2019 coal production hit lowest level since 1978 MORE (D-Ariz.) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) and Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenOvernight Energy: EPA finalizes rollback of Obama-era oil and gas methane emissions standards | Democratic lawmakers ask Interior to require masks indoors at national parks | Harris climate agenda stresses need for justice EPA finalizes rollback of Obama-era oil and gas methane emissions standards Democrats unveil bill to penalize gas producers for blowouts ahead of expected Trump methane rollback MORE (D-Md.).

A spokesperson for Huawei declined to comment on the bill. 

Concerns over Huawei have been a rare area of bipartisan agreement over the past year, and limiting Huawei’s ability to do business in the U.S. has been a priority of the Trump administration.

Huawei was added to the Commerce Department’s “entity list” in 2019, effectively blacklisting the company, while the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously voted in November to ban U.S. telecom companies from using FCC funds to purchase Huawei equipment. 

Multiple bills have been introduced on Capitol Hill in relation to Huawei, with one measure that would ban the use of all federal funds to buy equipment from telecom groups deemed a national security threat on the verge of being signed into law by President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Michael Cohen book accuses Trump of corruption, fraud Trump requests mail-in ballot for Florida congressional primary MORE.