By Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House Office of Management and Budget has told the U.S. Congress it will now meet a two-year deadline to ban federal contracts with companies that do business with Chinese telecom giant Huawei, part of a defence law passed last year, according to a letter seen by Reuters.
“Congress has made it clear in recent days the importance of implementing the law within the two years provided, and we will,” Russ Vought, the acting director of OMB, said in a letter to Senator James Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Last week the OMB had said it would need more time to implement the ban, which requires third-party suppliers and contractors to restrict their purchases and use of Huawei equipment.
But the White House reversed course after “recent conversations with Congress,” Vought said in the letter dated Wednesday.
“As we move forward to meet the statutory deadline without further delay, we will work with Congress to address any unforeseen issues that arise,” Vought said.
The ban is one part of a multifaceted U.S. push against Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the world’s largest telecoms network gear maker, which Washington accuses of espionage and stealing intellectual property.
Huawei has repeatedly denied it is controlled by the Chinese government, military or intelligence services. It has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government over the restrictions in the defence policy bill.
The defence law, called the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), placed a broad ban on the use of federal money to purchase products from Huawei, citing national security concerns.
It included a ban on direct federal purchases of Huawei equipment, which will take effect this year.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Eric Beech and Sandra Maler)