Cruz blocks vote on Biden Commerce secretary nominee over Huawei concerns

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan To counter China, the Senate must confirm US ambassadors The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown MORE (R-Texas) on Thursday formally placed a hold on the Senate voting on the nomination of Gina RaimondoGina RaimondoEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Shipwreck sends waste thousands of miles Buttigieg has high name recognition, favorability rating in Biden Cabinet: survey Scott says he will block nominees until Biden officials testify on supply chain crisis MORE, President Biden’s pick for Commerce secretary, due to concerns Raimondo has not clarified her stance on Chinese telecom giant Huawei. 

“I’ll lift the hold when the Biden admin commits to keep the massive Chinese Communist Party spy operation Huawei on the Entity List,” Cruz tweeted in response to a report from Bloomberg Business that he had blocked a vote on Raimondo. 

Cruz’s block comes after over a week of criticism from both House and Senate Republicans of Raimondo’s comments on Huawei during her confirmation hearing. 

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The Commerce Department under the Trump administration added Huawei, one of the largest 5G equipment manufacturers in the world, to its “entity list,” effectively blacklisting the company over concerns it posed an espionage threat due to ties to the Chinese government. 

Raimondo made clear that if confirmed, she would "review the policy, consult with you, consult with industry, consult with our allies, and make an assessment as to what’s best for American national and economic security,” but did not specifically commit to keeping Huawei on the entity list when Cruz questioned her about it during her confirmation hearing. 

She later made clear in written responses to questions from members of the Senate Commerce Committee that she had “no reason to believe that entities on those lists should not be there.”

Cruz voted against approving Raimondo during the committee vote Wednesday, with Raimondo advancing out of committee by a vote of 21-3.

“Gina Raimondo’s ethics issues and soft stance on China including her refusal to commit to keep Huawei on the Entities List is deeply troubling,” Cruz tweeted Wednesday following the committee vote. “That’s why I voted against advancing her nomination and I urge my colleagues to refuse to confirm her.”

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The hold on Raimondo’s nomination comes after Cotton and Sens. Ben SasseBen SasseThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - House to vote on Biden social spending bill after McCarthy delay CBO releases cost estimate of Biden plan Real conservatives must make a choice MORE (R-Neb.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense & National Security — US tries to deter Russian invasion of Ukraine Senate eyes plan B amid defense bill standoff To counter China, the Senate must confirm US ambassadors MORE (R-Fla.) wrote a letter to Raimondo asking her to clarify her stance on keeping Huawei on the entity list.

A coalition of almost two dozen House Republicans, led by House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulWTA suspends tournaments in China pending investigation into star Peng Shuai's allegations Biden administration resists tougher Russia sanctions in Congress China draws scrutiny over case of tennis star Peng Shuai MORE (R-Texas), also pressured senators to block a vote on Raimondo’s nomination until she made clear her stance on Huawei. 

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McCaul on Thursday night celebrated Cruz’s decision to block a vote on Raimondo. 

"As I have repeatedly expressed, #Huawei is not a normal telecommunications company – it is an arm of the #CCP’s military that poses a significant threat to U.S. national security and supports the CCP’s genocide in Xinjiang,” McCaul said in a statement tweeted out by the committee. “The Biden Administration must take this seriously.”

Republicans have also taken issue with the White House’s unclear stance on Huawei’s place on the entity list.

Reporters have questioned White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiBiden, Putin to talk next week amid military buildup in Ukraine Epidemic of smash-and-grab crime is definitely man-made US intelligence says Russia planning Ukraine offensive involving 175K troops: reports MORE about Huawei twice since Biden took office, and while she stressed during press briefings that “telecommunications equipment made by untrusted vendors, including Huawei, is a threat to the security of the U.S. and our allies,” Psaki has not confirmed if Huawei will remain on the list.  

The Trump administration put huge pressure on Huawei, with Trump signing into law legislation last year barring use of federal funds to purchase Huawei equipment, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously to classify the company as a national security threat. 

Huawei has denied allegations it poses a threat, and is currently challenging the FCC designation in court.