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Senators want Trump to halt licenses that let US companies sell to Huawei

Commerce Department recently extended a temporary license to allow American companies to do business with Huawei.

Huawei has said its being "treated unfairly" by the US.
Angela Lang/CNET

Allowing US companies to keep working business with Huawei could pose a threat to telecommunications infrastructure and national security, a bipartisan group of senators said in a letter to President Donald Trump on Thursday. The group -- led by Sens. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican, and Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat -- asked the president to suspend approval of licenses to export to Huawei until Congress can be "appropriately informed" about the approval process and any national security implications. 

On Monday, the US Commerce Department extended a temporary license to allow American companies to do business with Huawei for another 90 days. This was the third time the license has been extended.

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The department blacklisted Huawei following a May executive order from Trump that effectively banned the company from US communications networks. It also required US companies to get a license to do business with Huawei, which faces national security concerns due to its cozy relationship with the Chinese government. Huawei has repeatedly denied the accusation that it's doing the bidding of China.

In their letter, the senators asked the Commerce Department to suspend granting of licenses until it's able to provide Congress with a report outlining "specific criteria for determining whether or not the approval of any license poses a national security threat." They also asked that congressional leadership be notified before issuing "any licenses to US firms to sell components to Huawei and its affiliates."

The Commerce Department said the licenses are limited to specific activities that don't pose a significant risk to national security. 

"These applications were approved through an interagency license review process which is composed of officials from the Department of Commerce, along with the Department of Defense, State Department, and Department of Energy," a Commerce spokesperson said in an emailed statement Friday. "Huawei and its affiliates will remain on the Entity List, and the Temporary General License ... will continue to be in effect."

The White House and Huawei didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Originally published Nov. 22 at 7:29 a.m. PT.
Update, 7:42 a.m.: Adds comment from Commerce Department.