On March 12, 2020, President Donald Trump signed into law H.R. 4998, the “Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019,” which prohibits the use of certain federal funds and subsidies to purchase communications equipment or services posing national security risks. The Act, passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate by voice vote and now Public Law No. 116-124, also creates a reimbursement program to assist with the removal and replacement of current equipment in use that was manufactured by entities posing unacceptable national security risks. The Act establishes a $1 billion fund to reimburse carriers during this ongoing Federal Communications Commission (FCC) national security-focused effort.
While never referenced in the Act, the legislation as introduced and passed by Congress is intended to assist in the Trump administration’s efforts to remove the equipment and technology of Chinese companies Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. from U.S. telecommunication networks. The White House in a fact sheet noted that the “stakes could not be higher—America’s citizens and our foreign partners must be able to trust that our 5G networks are reliable, private, and secure” and that the Trump administration “will not risk subjecting America’s critical telecommunications infrastructure to companies that are controlled by authoritarian governments or foreign adversaries.” In a November 22, 2019 Report and Order, the FCC designated Huawei and ZTE as companies that pose a threat to U.S. national security.