Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ed Markey (D-MA) applauded the U.S. Senate’s unanimous 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. Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed companion legislation, which was introduced by U.S. Representatives Steve Scalise (R-LA) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA). The bill now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law. 
 
“Chinese state-directed companies like Huawei and ZTE are known national security threats and have no place in our telecommunications network,” Rubio said. “I am grateful that the Senate and House passed this bill, which will help keep compromised equipment from bad actors out of critical American infrastructure. Now, President Biden must swiftly sign it into law so that the Chinese Communist Party can no longer exploit this dangerous loophole.” 
 
“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 have helped lead this effort and I thank my colleagues in both chambers of Congress for passing our bill. I stand ready to now work with the Biden administration and the FCC to implement this critical national security measure.”
 
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.