U.S. House Passes O’Halleran-Bill to Build National 5G Strategy & Protect U.S. Telecommunications Networks Against Foreign Threats

January 9, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON— The U.S. House of Representatives last night voted 413 to 3 to pass a bipartisan bill led by Representatives Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-01), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) Susan W. Brooks (R-IN-05), Francis Rooney (R-FL-19), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-08), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) to build a national strategy to protect 5G telecommunications systems in the United States and among U.S. allies.

According to a 2018 North Atlantic Treaty Organization report, Huawei, a Chinese multinational technology company with growing influence as a leading supplier of 5G technology, could be exploited by China to engage in espionage, monitor foreign corporations and governments, and support Chinese military operations. In November 2019, the Federal Communications Commission placed greater restrictions on Huawei and fellow Chinese tech firm ZTE due to widespread security concerns. However, the United States still lacks a comprehensive strategy.

The Secure 5G and Beyond Act would require the administration to develop an unclassified, national strategy to protect U.S. consumers and assist allies in maximizing the security of their 5G telecommunications systems. This strategy would also identify additional ways to spur research and development by U.S. companies in a way that maintains reliable internet access.

“In our 21st century economy, reliable, high-speed internet is crucial for access to education, tele-health, and countless other resources, especially in rural communities like my district,” said O’Halleran. “However, we must ensure that, as this necessary telecommunications infrastructure evolves, we continue to prioritize the security and privacy of all Americans. I was proud to join a bipartisan group to pass this important bill that will allow these crucial systems to grow while protecting American interests from potential foreign threats and monopolies.”

Specifically, the bipartisan Secure 5G and Beyond Act would require the administration to build an interagency strategy to:

  • secure 5th generation and future-generation telecommunications systems and infrastructure across the United States;
  • assist U.S. allies and defense partners in maximizing the security of 5G systems and infrastructure in their countries; and
  • protect the competitiveness of U.S. companies, the privacy of U.S. consumers, and the integrity of international standards-setting bodies against foreign political influence.

Click here to watch O’Halleran speak on the House floor in support of this bipartisan bill.

“To protect the privacy, data, and security of American consumers and companies, we need a national game plan to defend U.S. wireless systems from the next wave of cyber threats. Especially as more of our communities transition to high-speed 5G networks, we must build a smart strategy to defend against intrusions and prevent our networks from being compromised,” said Spanberger. “Today, I was proud to see my Secure 5G and Beyond Act pass unanimously in the U.S. House, and I’m encouraged that my bill passed with 11 Republican and 16 Democratic cosponsors—showing that the long-term security of our telecommunications systems is not a partisan issue. As we witness the growing influence of foreign-based 5G companies like Huawei and ZTE, this bill would level the playing field for American tech companies and defend the online security of American families and businesses. I encourage my colleagues in the U.S. Senate to take up this legislation for a vote as soon as possible.”

“The United States needs to be proactive in preventing any vulnerabilities that could be exploited by our adversaries. In our increasingly interconnected world, that means protecting our telecommunications and infrastructure, and those of our allies, from malign foreign interference,” said Rooney. “Today’s passage of this critical bill, which I was honored to cosponsor, will assist in ensuring the safety, security, and freedom of the United States and in safeguarding our technology infrastructure.”

“Our economic competitiveness and our national security depend on a clear-eyed approach to China's influence in the 5G space,” said Slotkin. “This bipartisan bill will requires an inter-agency strategy to mitigate this threat, protect U.S. companies and consumers, and prevent foreign influence in future telecommunications systems, and I’m proud it has passed the House today.”

“I’m proud to help pass this important bill to provide clarity and inter-agency strategy to secure 5th generation and future-generation telecommunications systems and infrastructure across the United States,” said Stefanik. “Ensuring the United States remains a leading global competitor in both the economy and technology is critical to the future of our nation. This bipartisan legislation requires the President to implement a strategy to secure these systems and maximize their security. I look forward to the bills implementation, and to protecting the competitiveness of American companies and the privacy of American consumers.”

The legislation passed in the U.S. House last night is the companion legislation to a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Richard Burr (R-NC).