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May 16, 2018

Congressman Thompson Introduces Resolution on ZTE

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, introduced a Resolution of Inquiry directing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide the Committee with all information and documentation it possesses related to the cybersecurity threats posed by the Chinese telecom corporation ZTE.  ZTE has been considered a significant security and surveillance threat for years and has illegally sold its products to Iran and North Korea, despite sanctions. 

Earlier this month, the Department of Defense banned the sale of ZTE phones on U.S. military bases because they pose an unacceptable risk. In February, the top officials from the FBI, CIA, NSA, and Defense Intelligence Agency all warned against using ZTE products.  In 2012, the House Select Committee on Intelligence warned of potential cyber-espionage by ZTE.  

This past Sunday, President Trump made a confusing statement via Twitter lamenting the loss of “many jobs in China” as a result of actions taken by the Department of Commerce to punish ZTE for failing to comply with a court settlement.  The President directed Commerce to save ZTE, seemingly without engaging in any formal policy processes or consulting the Intelligence Community.  Earlier this week, reports emerged that a Chinese construction company agreed to build a resort in Indonesia – financed with loans from the Chinese government - which will license the Trump name.

Congressman Thompson released the following statement on the Resolution:

“The information sought from DHS will help us conduct oversight into the Federal government’s understanding, handling, and mitigation of the potential threats posed by ZTE and its products.  Given the Department’s role in securing Federal networks and protecting critical infrastructure, it is important to determine what actions they have taken.  We must also be able to determine what, if any, information or formal processes informed President Trump’s decision to work with President Xi to benefit ZTE. The President’s cavalier approach to handling this serious national security matter should be concerning to all.”

“In this age of ever-changing threats, the cybersecurity of government networks and our national security infrastructure should be paramount – and the President should not be engaging in any conduct or policymaking that could threaten this.  I hope that this effort will garner support from my colleagues who, like me, are concerned about the homeland security implications of propping-up ZTE.”

The Resolution of Inquiry (H. Res. 898) can be found here.

BACKGROUND: A Resolution of Inquiry is a legislative tool that has privileged parliamentary status, meaning it can be brought to the floor for immediate consideration if the relevant Committee has not reported it within 14 legislative days, even if the Majority has not scheduled it for a vote.  Once introduced, the Committee must schedule a markup in that period to consider and debate the measure and vote on whether to report it to the house favorably or unfavorably.  If the Committee fails to act, it can be called up on the House floor and voted upon by the full House of Representatives.

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Media contact: Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978