House passes bills to secure telecommunications infrastructure

House passes bills to secure telecommunications infrastructure
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The House on Wednesday approved multiple bipartisan bills aimed at securing U.S. telecommunications systems against foreign interference, in particular against threats from China. 

The Secure Equipment Act, sponsored by House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseLawmakers remember Bob Dole: 'Bona fide American hero' House sets up Senate shutdown showdown GOP beginning to jockey for post-election leadership slots MORE (R-La.) and Rep. Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooHillicon Valley — Chinese disinformation accounts removed House passes bipartisan bills to strengthen network security, cyber literacy Democrats to target Section 230 in Haugen hearing MORE (D-Calif.), was approved by the House by a vote of 420-4, and would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take steps to block authorization of products from companies on the agency’s “covered list.” 

Companies on this list include Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE, which both Congress and the Trump administration took steps to block from the U.S. due to national security and espionage concerns. 

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“By prohibiting the FCC from issuing any equipment licenses to companies identified as a threat to our national security, this bill prevents compromised Chinese equipment from threatening America’s networks,” Scalise said in a statement. “The Secure Equipment Act sends a strong signal to the Chinese Communist Party that America is committed to securing our networks and protecting the privacy and safety of our citizens.”

Eshoo also praised the bill’s passage, noting in a separate statement that “equipment made by Huawei and ZTE, companies linked to the Chinese government, increase the vulnerabilities of our telecommunication systems and put the U.S. at risk.”

A Senate version of the bill introduced by Sens. 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.) and Ed MarkeyEd MarkeySenators seek to curb counterfeit toys and goods sold online Senate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Pledged money not going to Indigenous causes MORE (D-Mass.) in May awaits consideration. 

The House on Wednesday also passed the Communications Security Advisory Act, which would require the FCC to permanently establish a council to help make recommendations on ways to increase the security and reliability of telecommunications networks.  

The bipartisan bill — sponsored by Reps. Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinThree dead, six wounded in Michigan school shooting Taiwan says it is capable of responding to repeated Chinese military missions Five House members meet with Taiwanese president despite Chinese objections MORE (D-Mich.), Kurt SchraderWalter (Kurt) Kurt SchraderFive takeaways: House passes Biden's sweeping benefits bill House passes giant social policy and climate measure Democrats press toward vote on massive Biden bill MORE (D-Ore.) and Tim WalbergTimothy (Tim) Lee WalbergHouse passes bills to secure telecommunications infrastructure Our military shouldn't be held hostage to 'water politics' Equilibrium/ Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — West Coast wildfires drive East Coast air quality alerts MORE (R-Mich.) — was passed by the House by a vote of 397-29. 

A third bill approved by the House Wednesday, this time by a vote of 413-14, was the Information and Communication Technology Strategy Act, which is sponsored by Reps. Billy LongWilliam (Billy) H. LongHouse passes bills to secure telecommunications infrastructure Democratic retirements could make a tough midterm year even worse Hartzler pulls in 6,000 for Missouri Senate bid with .65M on hand MORE (R-Mo.), Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerWith Build Back Better, Dems aim to correct messaging missteps Sunday shows preview: New COVID-19 variant emerges; supply chain issues and inflation persist On The Money — Biden sticks with Powell despite pressure MORE (D-Va.) and Jerry McNerneyGerlad (Jerry) Mark McNerneyDemocrats see Friday vote as likely for Biden bill Proposed California maps put incumbents in jeopardy Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — China's president to video in for climate confab MORE (D-Calif.). The bill would require the Commerce Department to develop a strategy to evaluate the economic competitiveness of companies within the communication technology supply chain. 

“The passage of this legislation brings us one step closer to making sure our nation's information technology supply chains are secure and free from dependence on foreign countries like China,” Long said in a statement Wednesday. “We need to continue to work in a bipartisan manner to ensure that the whole-of-government strategy that is created through this legislation is properly implemented.”

The leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where all three bills originated, also applauded passage of the measures by the House.

“Today the House continued its work to strengthen our nation’s telecommunications infrastructure for the future by overwhelmingly passing four bipartisan bills,” Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike DoyleMichael (Mike) F. DoyleHouse passes bipartisan bills to strengthen network security, cyber literacy Texas Democrat Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson announces retirement at end of term Midterm gloom grows for Democrats MORE (D-Penn.) said in a joint statement. 

“Together, these bills will boost network reliability, protect against suspect equipment that poses a risk to our national security, support small communications network providers, and bolster the economic competitiveness of our technology supply chains,” they said. “We commend the bipartisan work that went into these bills that advanced out of our Committee in July and hope that the Senate will take action soon.”

All three bills now move to the Senate for consideration.