Senate Freeze for Huawei Rip-And-Replace Funds

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More than a month has passed since Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) blocked Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker’s (R-MS) attempt to fast-track a House-passed bill, H.R. 4998 (116), authorizing $1 billion to reimburse rural wireless carriers that replace gear from companies deemed a national security risk like Huawei and ZTE. Lee’s big concern is where lawmakers are getting the money. He prefers the Senate approach, which would pay for a $700 million fund via spectrum sale revenue.

But no resolution appears imminent as the Senate began its impeachment trial yesterday. “We haven’t heard from Wicker or his staff, but we are very happy to work with them if they reach out,” a Lee spokesman told Politico. Wicker earlier this month, however, signaled an interest in hashing out differences with Lee. He didn’t think the Senate would resort to scheduling a roll-call vote to bypass Lee’s objections.

Wicker also expressed frustration with the process. “There’s something to be said for scheduling a bill, bringing it up for amendments, taking a couple days and letting the majority speak,” he told Politico. “We’re going to be in trouble if we become a body where one member has veto authority over every issue.” 

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