House Republicans Tie Biden Commerce Pick to Huawei Stance

Several House Republicans are asking their Senate counterparts to delay the confirmation of Gina Raimondo for Commerce secretary until President Joe Biden clarifies whether he supports keeping Huawei Technologies Co. on a restricted trade list.

Led by Texas Representative Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the group released a statement Tuesday highlighting the threat they say the Chinese technology company poses to national security. McCaul said while he agrees that the president should be able to pick his own cabinet -- and the confirmation process is up to the Senate -- removing Huawei from the Commerce Department’s “Entity List” is an issue that the nominee should clarify before moving ahead.

“The fact that the Biden Administration has still refused to commit to keeping Huawei on the Department of Commerce’s Entity List is incredibly alarming and dangerous,” the House Republicans said in the statement. “We urge those Senators who have a history of calling for Huawei to remain on the Entity List to stick to their principles and place a hold on Ms. Raimondo’s confirmation until the Biden Administration clarifies their intentions for Huawei and on export control policies for a country that is carrying out genocide and threatening our national security.”

The Trump administration instituted a Huawei export ban that requires U.S. firms to obtain government licenses if they want to sell American tech and intellectual property to the Chinese telecommunications-equipment giant.

Raimondo didn’t specifically commit to keeping Huawei on the list when asked about the issue during her Jan. 26 Senate confirmation hearing.

“We can’t have the Chinese or really anyone having a back door into our network and compromising in any way our national or economic security,” Raimondo said in her hearing last week. “I will use the bold toolkit at my disposal to the fullest extent possible to protect Americans and our network from Chinese interference or any kind of back-door influence into our network -- and that’s Huawei, ZTE, or any other company,” she said, referring to China’s ZTE Corp., another telecommunications equipment firm.

“The last U.S. administration and some anti-China politicians, to uphold the U.S. monopoly, have been doing all they can to oppress Huawei and other Chinese high-tech companies,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Wednesday. “This is a denial of the market economy principles and fair competition which the U.S. champions.”

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