The White House’s acting budget chief is pressing for parts of the US’s Huawei ban to be delayed an additional two years, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The ban could dramatically reduce the number of telecom manufacturers capable of supplying services to the government, says Russell T. Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget. He also says it could disproportionately affect telecom companies that serve rural areas.
Vought requested the delay in a letter directed to Vice President Mike Pence and several members of Congress. He specifically asks for restrictions on contractors and federal loan and grant recipients, enacted last year in a defense bill, to be delayed for an additional two years.
Every year, Congress appropriates funding for defense by way of a recurring piece of legislation called the National Defense Authorization Act. Lawmakers often tag on amendments targeting other policy issues by way of this must-pass legislation, and last year one of their main targets was Huawei and other Chinese telecom companies.
The Trump administration has spent the last few months citing Chinese companies, primarily Huawei, as national security risks. In January, the Justice Department charged Huawei with stealing trade secrets, with the most prominent design belonging to T-Mobile for its phone-screen-testing robot “Tappy.”
Yet, it’s unclear if the Trump administration has implemented these bans on behalf of national security, or to use them as leverage in ongoing trade deal discussions. In an interview with CNBC, Trump responded to these concerns saying, “I do see it as a threat.” He continued, “At the same time, it could be very well that we do something with respect to Huawei as part of our trade negotiation with China.”