A group of 15 U.S. senators from both the Republican and the Democratic party have written a letter to the U.S. Commerce Department urging it to suspend issuing licenses to U.S. firms that conduct business with China’s Huawei Technologies Co, citing threats to U.S. national security.
The letter also urges the Trump, administration to halt issuing licenses until the administration provides Congress “a report outlining specific criteria for determining whether or not the approval of any license poses a national security threat.”
On Wednesday, the Trump administration had said it had begun issuing licenses to U.S. companies which allows them to restart sales to Huawei after it was placed on an Entity List because of national security concerns.
According to a U.S. official, of the roughly 300 license requests, nearly 50% have been processed, with one-quarter approved; another quarter have received notices of intent to deny.
The letter, signed by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Senator Tom Cotton, demands congressional leaders “be notified prior to the issuance of any licenses to U.S. firms to sell components to Huawei and its affiliates.” The letter was also signed by Republicans Ben Sasse, John Cornyn, Josh Hawley and Rick Scott and Democrats Elizabeth Warren, Richard Blumenthal, Ron Wyden and Cory Booker.
The letter warned the licenses will allow “Huawei to continue to pose a serious threat to U.S. telecommunications infrastructure and national security more broadly.”
The White House declined to comment.
A spokesman for the Commerce Department said the agency was “issuing these narrow licenses to authorize limited and specific activities which do not pose a significant risk to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.” It went on to add, the licenses “were approved through an inter-agency license review process” that included Commerce, Defense, State and Energy department officials.
The Federal Communications Commission plans to vote on Friday to “designate Huawei and ZTE Corp national security risks. This will bar U.S. rural carriers from tapping an $8.5 billion government fund to purchase equipment or services from them. The FCC also plans to propose requiring those carriers to remove and replace equipment from such designated companies.”