Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ed Markey (D-MA) applauded President Joe Biden for signing their Secure Equipment Act of 2021 (S. 1790 / H.R. 3919) into law. This bipartisan and bicameral legislation closes a loophole by directing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt rules to clarify that it will no longer review or issue new equipment licenses to companies on the agency’s “Covered Equipment or Services List'' that pose a national security threat, such as Chinese state-backed firms Huawei and ZTE. The FCC is required to maintain this list under the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019, which laid out detailed criteria for determining which communications equipment or services pose an unacceptable risk to U.S. safety. In October, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the bill, in the wake of the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of companion legislation introduced by U.S. Representatives Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA).
 
“The Chinese Communist Party will stop at nothing to exploit our laws and undermine our national security,” Rubio said. “This legislation fixes a dangerous loophole in our law, curtailing their efforts to worm their way into our telecommunications networks. I am grateful that President Biden signed this bill into law so that critical American infrastructure is protected.”
 
“In today’s increasingly connected world, we must animate our technology with our values,” Markey said. “That’s why I was so proud to help lead this bipartisan effort, which will keep compromised equipment out of U.S. telecommunications networks and ensure our technology is safe for consumers and secure for the United States. With President Biden’s signature, we are taking strong action to protect our nation from global technological threats that can undermine our future prosperity. I look forward to now working with the President and every member of the FCC to implement this critical measure.”

“Yesterday’s bill signing proves that Congress can still work together across the aisle to enact vital legislation to protect the privacy and security of American citizens," House Republican Whip Steve Scalise said. "I was proud to work with Rep. Eshoo and Senators Rubio and Markey to get the Secure Equipment Act through the House and Senate to prevent Chinese companies identified as national security threats from gaining access to the private data of American families. With this bill being signed into law, we have sent a strong signal to the Chinese Communist Party that America is committed to protecting our telecommunications networks and the data security of our Nation." 

“I applaud Senator Rubio, Senator Markey, Republican Whip Scalise, and Congresswoman Eshoo for their determination and leadership to secure America’s communications networks,” FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said.” Their Secure Equipment Act is now the law of the land and will ensure that insecure equipment from Huawei, ZTE, and other untrustworthy entities can no longer be inserted into our communications networks. This gear poses an unacceptable risk to our national security. I am pleased with the overwhelming support their legislation has received in Congress to close the Huawei Loophole, and for President Biden’s signature enacting this important reform.”

Background: 
 
In 2020, the FCC adopted new rules to require that U.S. telecommunications carriers rip out and replace equipment provided by “covered” companies. While that was an important step, those rules only apply to equipment purchased with federal funding. The very same equipment can still be used if purchased with private or non-federal government dollars. Rubio and Markey introduced the Secure Equipment Act to close this loophole and further prevent identified security threats from having a presence in U.S. telecommunications networks. Subsequently, the FCC initiated a rule that mirrors the lawmakers’ proposal, and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation advanced the bill in August 2021.