Senators urge Trump to suspend Huawei license approvals

Senators urge Trump to suspend Huawei license approvals
© Greg Nash

A group of senators from both parties on Thursday urged the Trump administration to stop issuing licenses for U.S. companies to do business with Chinese telecom giant Huawei, warning that even limited business with Huawei could pose a national security risk.

In a letter to President Trump, the group of 15 senators wrote they are dismayed the Commerce Department has started issuing licenses to U.S. firms that conduct business with Huawei. 

"Given the security risks posed by Huawei’s operations in the U.S., we request that you take immediate action to suspend the approval of such licenses and ensure Congress is appropriately informed about the license approval process and related national security implications going forward," Sens. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerCollins walks impeachment tightrope 'Emotion' from Trump's legal team wins presidential plaudits Biden says he would not engage in witness swap in impeachment trial MORE (D-N.Y.) and Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonRestlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on Senators opt to drink milk on Senate floor during impeachment trial GOP rep introduces bill to block intelligence sharing with countries using Huawei for 5G MORE (R-Ark.) wrote in the bipartisan letter. 

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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross this week said the Trump administration has started to issue licenses to some of the U.S. companies that requested special permission to conduct business with Huawei after the company was blacklisted in May.

The licenses started to emerge after the Commerce Department announced Monday that the temporary license permitting some companies to work with Huawei has been extended 90 days, in the third deadline extension since the company was blacklisted. 

The Trump administration has moved to crack down on Huawei, which the intelligence community sees as a threat. But the efforts to target Huawei have also caused worry in the tech industry, where many companies have important business dealings with the company. The Commerce Department is seeking to achieve a ban without significantly harming U.S. businesses.

On Thursday, the senators wrote to Trump, "You have said yourself that you did not want the U.S. doing business with Huawei." 

They asked the Commerce Department to stop granting licenses to U.S. companies until it provides Congress with a "report outlining specific criteria for determining whether or not the approval of any license poses a national security threat." 

And they asked Trump to ensure the administration notifies key lawmakers and committees in Congress about any Huawei licenses.