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Congress wants to block the Trump administration from weakening Huawei restrictions

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If approved, any changes would need approval from Congress

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

A group of senators introduced a bipartisan piece of legislation Tuesday that would limit the Trump administration’s abilities to scale back pressure on the Chinese tech giant Huawei without an act of Congress.

The Defending America’s 5G Future Act, led by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), would block the Trump administration from single-handedly allowing Huawei to conduct business with American companies. If approved, it would also keep the Commerce Department from removing the Chinese company from its “Entity List,” codifying a recent Trump administration executive order. That list prevents companies like Huawei from purchasing US tech without government approval.

The group of lawmakers signed onto the bill have long sought to block Chinese telecom companies like Huawei and ZTE from the American market. Senators like Marco Rubio (R-FL) helped to spearhead efforts last summer, and called the administration’s recent moves to scale back on Huawei a “catastrophic mistake.”

Rubio, along with Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) are co-sponsoring the Senate version of the legislation, which will also be introduced in the House.

“We must make a concerted effort to confront the threat China poses to U.S. national security, intellectual property, and technology,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said. “Our bill will prohibit U.S.-based companies from doing business with Huawei until they no longer pose a national security threat.”

Earlier this summer, Trump announced that the administration would start granting exemptions for Huawei to allow it to continue to do business with US companies, but that move quickly drew ire from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who believe these Chinese companies pose significant national security threats.

“Huawei isn’t a normal business partner for American companies, it’s a front for the Chinese Communist Party. Our bill reinforces the president’s decision to place Huawei on a technology blacklist. American companies shouldn’t be in the business of selling our enemies the tools they’ll use to spy on Americans,” said Cotton.