Senators introduce bill to secure U.S. supply chains against Chinese threats

Senators introduce bill to secure U.S. supply chains against Chinese threats
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Sens. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoBipartisan housing finance reform on the road less taken 2020 Democrats raise alarm about China's intellectual property theft Trump faces tough path to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac overhaul MORE (R-Idaho) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate Democrats introduce legislation to limit foreign interference in elections Navy acknowledges footage of 'unidentified' flying objects California Law to rebuild middle class shows need for congressional action MORE (D-Va.) introduced legislation Tuesday intended to secure U.S. technological supply chains from exploitation from countries such as China.

The Manufacturing, Investment, and Controls Review for Computer Hardware, Intellectual Property and Supply (Microchips) Act would establish a National Supply Chain Security Center within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

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This new center would be charged with collecting information on threats to supply chains for the government and the military as well as for key telecommunication infrastructure like 5G, and sharing this with relevant federal agencies. 

The bill would also require the director of national intelligence to develop a plan to increase supply chain intelligence within 180 days of the bill being signed into law. This portion of the bill was included in the House-passed version of the Intelligence Authorization Act

While the bill aims to address foreign threats generally to supply chains, it zeros in on Chinese supply chain exploitation practices including cyber-physical attacks on U.S. electric grids, missiles and computer systems, and malicious actors gaining access to sensitive data. 

Crapo, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said in a statement that “actions by the People’s Republic of China have contributed to an unfair and unsafe advantage in its technological race against the United States,” adding that “China aims to dominate a $1.5 trillion electronics industry, which creates serious, far-reaching threats to the supply chains that support the U.S. government and military.”  

Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, noted that the U.S. still lacks a “coordinated, whole-of-government strategy to defend ourselves,” and called for “a national strategy to unify efforts across the government to protect our supply chain and our national security.” 

Chinese interference in U.S. supply chains has been increasingly in the spotlight as the Trump administration has moved to block American companies from doing business with Chinese telecom Huawei, citing national security concerns. 

This has been a particular focus as both Chinese and American companies look to roll out fifth generation (5G) wireless technologies, with Crapo’s office noting in announcing the new bill that China is trying to export 5G technologies to the U.S. “that could potentially harm and expose both consumer and U.S. military information.”