By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Two U.S. senators on Wednesday said they are introducing a measure to prohibit funds in a $1.9 trillion government funding measure from being used to purchase Chinese telecommunications equipment from Huawei, ZTE and other companies deemed U.S. security threats.
Senators Tom Cotton, a Republican, and Mark Warner, a Democrat, said the funds that were approved in March in a law known as the American Rescue Plan should not be used to potentially undermine U.S. telecommunications networks.
“With states across the country mapping out their plans for quality and affordable high-speed internet as a result of historic funding from the American Rescue Plan, weve got to make sure no community is sacrificing network security, said Warner.
Huawei and ZTE did not immediately comment.
“The U.S government must take strong action to cut the Chinese Communist Party out of our networks. Americans deserve both reliable and secure telecommunications technologies,” said Cotton.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously to finalize a $1.9 billion program to reimburse mostly rural U.S. carriers for removing equipment from telecommunications networks from Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE.
Last year, the FCC designated Huawei and ZTE as national security threats to communications networks – a declaration that barred U.S. firms from tapping an $8.3 billion government fund to purchase equipment from the companies. The FCC in December adopted rules requiring carriers with ZTE or Huawei equipment to “rip and replace” that equipment.
The FCC in September 2020 estimated it would cost $1.837 billion to remove and replace Huawei and ZTE equipment from networks.
(Reporting by David Shepardson in WashingtonEditing by Jonathan Oatis and Matthew Lewis)