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New bill calls for strategy to protect 5G infrastructure from foreign threats

Rep. Abigail Spanberger on protecting 5G

Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA officer and a freshman Democrat from Virginia, is introducing a bill to strengthen protections for U.S. telecom systems from foreign influence by companies like Huawei and establish a national strategy for securing next-generation infrastructure.

The U.S. has cracked down on Huawei, a major supplier of 5G technology, over its close ties to the Chinese government, which is a particular concern addressed in Spanberger's bill.

Spanberger told CBSN's "Red & Blue" that her bill is an example of Congress "identifying a threat and seeking to solve it." The bill requires President Trump to develop a national strategy to secure 5G technology across the U.S. and assist allies in maximizing the security of 5G systems and infrastructure in their countries. It would also boost the competitiveness of U.S. telecommunications companies so that Huawei doesn't hold a monopoly.

"To me, the urgency related to anything in the realm of counterintelligence is immediate," Spanberger said about the bill, adding that the U.S. was being "proactive" in countering Huawei. "The purpose here is to make sure that our technologies can develop in a place where they're not threatened."

Last week, the Commerce Department placed Huawei on its so-called Entity List, effectively barring U.S. firms from selling it technology without government approval.

Google also said this week that future Huawei devices will not have its flagship apps and services, including maps, Gmail and search. The U.S. government's sanctions are widely seen as a means of pressuring reluctant allies in Europe to exclude Huawei equipment from their next-generation wireless networks. 

If passed and signed by Mr. Trump, Spanberger's bill would be an additional way to apply pressure on Huawei and shore up U.S. technology. The bipartisan bill is co-sponsored by three Democrats and three Republicans.

Separately, Spanberger addressed the issue of impeachment, as more Democrats have come out in support of beginning impeachment proceedings against Mr. Trump. Spanberger said she has not yet made a decision on whether she believes the president should be impeached, but that her focus was on passing bipartisan legislation.

"There's a real need and real desire among many members of Congress to get stuff done," Spanberger said.