Jan 29 2019
WASHINGTON— Today, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Committee member Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) announced that their bipartisan legislation to help combat tech-specific threats to national security posed by foreign actors like China has picked up four new bipartisan Senate co-sponsors. Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have co-sponsored Warner and Rubio’s legislation to create an Office of Critical Technologies & Security at the White House responsible for coordinating across agencies and developing a long-term, whole-of-government strategy to protect against state-sponsored technology theft and risks to critical supply chains.
Companion legislation was also introduced in the House of Representatives on January 16 by Congressmen C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Mike Conaway (R-TX), Jim Himes (D-CT), and Will Hurd (R-TX).
China and other nations are currently attempting to achieve technological and economic superiority over the United States through the aggressive use of state-directed or -supported technology transfers. At the same time, the U.S. is also facing major challenges to the integrity of key supply chains as a result of reliance on foreign products that have been identified as national security risks. A national response to combat these threats and ensure our national security has, to date, been hampered by insufficient coordination at the federal level.
The Warner-Rubio bill would guarantee that there is a federal entity responsible for proactively coordinating interagency efforts and developing a national strategy to deal with these challenges to our national security and long-term technological competitiveness. Under the bill, the Office of Critical Technologies & Security would be directed to coordinate and consult with federal and state tech and telecom regulators, the private sector, nongovernmental experts and academic stakeholders, and key international partners and U.S. allies to ensure that every available tool is being utilized to safeguard the supply chain and protect emerging, foundational and dual-use technologies. The Office would also be responsible for raising awareness of these threats and improving the overall education of the American public and business leaders in key sectors about the threats to U.S. national security posed by the improper acquisition and transfer of critical technologies by foreign countries and reliance on foreign products – such as those manufactured by Chinese telecom companies ZTE and Huawei – that jeopardize the overall security of private sector supply chains.
“Our message is clear: We need a whole-of-government technology strategy to protect U.S. competitiveness in emerging and dual-use technologies and address the Chinese threat,” said Sen. Warner, a former technology and telecommunications executive. “I thank Senator Bennet, Senator Blunt, Senator Coons and Senator Collins for their support of this measure, and I look forward to working with them and the Executive Branch to improve coordination and respond to this threat.”
“I thank my Senate colleagues for recognizing the importance of this legislation and the continued threat posed by Chinese government’s assault on U.S. intellectual property, U.S. businesses, and our government networks and information with the full backing of the Chinese Communist Party,” Sen. Rubio said. “The United States needs a more coordinated approach to directly counter this critical threat and ensure we better protect U.S. technology, and this important, bipartisan legislation will streamline efforts across the government. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Administration to enact this legislation and guard against these national security threats.”
“The United States must sharpen efforts to address technology threats from China and other nations that undermine our economic and national security, erode democratic norms, and leave vulnerable our supply chains. Successfully combatting these threats requires a long-term strategy for maintaining U.S. competitiveness in technologies of the future. We must work across public and private sectors to galvanize efforts that ensure our technological competitiveness,” said Sen. Bennet.
“It’s more important than ever for the federal government to have a comprehensive strategy to combat the increase in tech-related security threats from China and other nations,” said Blunt. “This bill is an important step to better protect our critical supply chains and push back against state-sponsored technology theft,” Sen. Blunt said.
“The United States needs a strategy to protect our critical infrastructure and safeguard technologies in industries of the future like 5G, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and biotech,” said Sen. Coons, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I am proud to support a bill that can improve our government’s capacity to secure our supply chains and prevent forced technology transfer. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this bill and other similar efforts into law.”
“China’s theft of critical U.S. technologies and increased efforts to expand into our telecommunications market pose as serious threats to our national security and to consumers,” said Sen Collins. “This bipartisan bill would ensure greater coordination and cooperation between government at the federal and state levels, as well as with nongovernmental experts and the private sector, to develop a long-term strategy on combatting foreign attempts to acquire U.S. technologies.”
Sen. Warner, a former telecommunications executive and entrepreneur, has long expressed concerns about the risks to our national security posed by Chinese-controlled telecom companies. On October 12, 2018, Sen. Warner and Sen. Rubio sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging his country to reconsider Huawei’s inclusion in any aspect of Canada’s 5G development, introduction, and maintenance. Warner has also urged the Administration to work with our allies to combat these technology threats. Sens. Warner and Rubio are also the authors of bipartisan legislation to enforce full compliance by ZTE with all probationary conditions of a U.S. Commerce Department’s deal struck with the company last year that ended U.S. imposed sanctions.
For a copy of the bill text, click here.