Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ed Markey (D-MA) applauded the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of their Secure Equipment Act of 2021 (S. 1790 / H.R. 3919). 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 what communications equipment or services pose an unacceptable risk to U.S. safety. Companion legislation was introduced in the House by Representatives Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA).
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.
"Chinese companies that have already been identified as national security threats should not be allowed to sell us compromised equipment and services,” Rubio said. “Senator Markey and I commend the House for passing our Secure Equipment Act -- bipartisan legislation that would close that loophole and protect American telecommunications networks. Now, we call on the Senate to do the same and send it straight to the president's desk."
“In today’s increasingly connected world, we must animate our technology with our values,” Markey said. “That’s why our bipartisan legislation will keep compromised equipment out of U.S. telecommunications networks and ensure our technology is safe for consumers and secure for the United States. I’m proud to partner with Senator Rubio on this proposal and I thank the House of Representatives for advancing our bill. I now call on the full Senate to swiftly pass the Secure Equipment Act and send it to the President’s desk.”