House passes telecom bills

The House on Wednesday approved multiple bipartisan bills aimed at securing U.S. telecommunications systems against foreign interference, in particular against threats from China.

The Secure Equipment Act, sponsored by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), was approved by the House by a vote of 420-4, and would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take steps to block authorization of products from companies on the agency’s “covered list.”

Companies on this list include Chinese telecom giants Huawei and ZTE, which both Congress and the Trump administration took steps to block from the U.S. due to national security and espionage concerns.

The House on Wednesday also passed the Communications Security Advisory Act, which would require the FCC to permanently establish a council to help make recommendations on ways to increase the security and reliability of telecommunications networks.


House also passed bill to strengthen IT supply chain: The House on Wednesday approved legislation to strengthen software and information technology supply chains at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and help protect against attacks similar to last year’s SolarWinds hack.

The DHS Software Supply Chain Risk Management Act, sponsored by Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) passed the lower chamber overwhelmingly in a vote of by a vote of 412-2.

The legislation would require DHS to issue department-wide guidance that all contractors submit lists of their software materials and the origins of each item to DHS for review. This would allow the agency to have greater insight into potential software vulnerabilities.