Eshoo, Scalise Introduce Bill to Protect U.S. Telecom Networks Against Chinese National Security Threats

June 15, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) introduced the Secure Equipment Act of 2021 to prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from reviewing or issuing new equipment licenses to companies on the FCC’s “Covered Equipment or Services List” that pose a national security threat.

This legislation would prevent equipment manufactured by Chinese state-backed firms such as Huawei, ZTE, Hytera, Hikvision and Dahua from being further utilized and marketed in the United States.

As directed by Congress, in 2020, the FCC published a list of telecommunications companies deemed to be a national security threat, prohibited the use of federal funds for purchasing equipment made by those companies, and authorized funding for U.S. telecommunications carriers to rip and replace equipment made by those companies. Yet, carriers can still privately purchase this equipment on the open market. The Secure Equipment Act adds an extra layer of security that slams the door on Chinese actors from having a presence in the U.S. telecommunications network.

“For over a decade I’ve fought to address vulnerabilities in our telecommunications infrastructure that directly impact our national security. Sadly, in the intervening years providers have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in equipment made by Huawei and ZTE, Chinese state-directed companies that sell compromised equipment,” said Rep. Eshoo. “Our legislation would further strengthen U.S. telecommunications networks by prohibiting equipment manufactured by entities that are a threat to our national security. I’m proud to work across the aisle with Rep. Scalise on this critical legislation to make our nation safer.”

“For far too long, we’ve allowed manufacturers like Huawei and ZTE – backed by the Chinese Communist Party – to have access to American networks, which has jeopardized our national security and threatened the individual safety of the American people,” said Rep. Scalise. “China must be stopped from doing further damage to our telecommunications network, and I’m proud to sponsor this important legislation with Rep. Eshoo to strengthen our national security and stand up to subsidiaries of the Chinese Communist Party.”

"The introduction of the Secure Equipment Act of 2021 is welcome news," said FCC Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel. "This legislation will help protect our national security by ensuring that untrustworthy communications equipment is not authorized for use within our borders. And we're not wasting time--last month, I shared a plan with my colleagues to update the Federal Communications Commission's equipment authorization procedures consistent with this effort. I thank Congresswoman Eshoo and Congressman Scalise for their work--having this policy written into the law will send a strong, bipartisan signal that the United States is committed to developing a market for secure 5G alternatives."

"I commend Republican Whip Steve Scalise and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo for their leadership in securing America's communications infrastructure," said FCC Commissioner Carr. "Their bipartisan Secure Equipment Act would close a glaring loophole that Huawei and other entities are exploiting today to place their insecure gear into our networks. I applaud their work to eliminate the threats posed by this equipment."

Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced similar legislation in the Senate last month.

Click here to read the full text of the legislation.