Calls to prevent Chinese state-sponsored biz from getting CARES Act funds

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) yesterday pressed the Trump Administration to prevent companies owned or subsidized by China from receiving any funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

In a bipartisan letter to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Stephen Dickson, Peters, along with U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), asked the agency to ensure that none of the $10 billion in CARES Act funding allocated for airport infrastructure renovations or upgrades would be used for contracts with Chinese-owned or subsidized companies.

A bipartisan group of members from the U.S. House of Representatives also were part of the effort.

“As you know, aviation is a critical component of our nation’s infrastructure, and airports in particular have been high priority targets by our adversaries,” Peters and the lawmakers wrote. “It has come to our attention that a Chinese state-sponsored passenger boarding bridge company has been able to bid on airport infrastructure projects in the U.S.”

“We are further requesting you to use all available means to prevent state-sponsored entities from receiving CARES Act funding that was intended to support U.S. airports and airport employees and contractors,” the lawmakers continued. “Given the clear security risk to our airports and the impact on critical infrastructure manufacturers and supply chains, we respectfully request that you exercise your authority to preempt contracting with Chinese owned or subsidized companies for our critical airport infrastructure.”

The full text of the letter, which references other similar measures undertaken by the lawmakers, can be found below:

Dear Administrator Dickson:

We commend the work of you and FAA staff to expedite distribution of the $10 billion that Congress appropriated in the CARES Act to commercial and general aviation airports across the country through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP).  These funds will work to provide economic relief to airports and their employees, which are being significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As you know, aviation is a critical component of our nation’s infrastructure, and airports in particular have been high priority targets by our adversaries.  It has come to our attention that a Chinese state-sponsored passenger boarding bridge company has been able to bid on airport infrastructure projects in the U.S.  Such bids include highly advanced equipment utilized by critical infrastructure with the potential to pose an economic, national security, and privacy threat to our nation.  That is why we have led previous efforts to pass legislation in the Senate raising concerns about critical infrastructure manufactured by foreign state-sponsored enterprises.

We are further requesting you to use all available means to prevent state sponsored entities from receiving CARES Act funding that was intended to support U.S. airports and airport employees and contractors.  The Chinese regime, using state-funded and state-directed companies, has already targeted U.S. transit networks in an attempt to undermine American industrial capacity and national security.  We responded by passing language in the Conference Report for the National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 116-92), which bars the use of federal funding for the procurement of public transit rolling stock owned by Chinese state-sponsored entities.

Subsequently, on June 6, 2019, we introduced the AIR Security Act (S. 1710), which would prohibit AIP grants from subsidizing the procurement of infrastructure or equipment for a passenger boarding bridge at an airport with any entity owned by an adversarial government.

Similar legislation is expected to be introduced shortly in the House of Representatives.

Given the clear security risk to our airports and the impact on critical infrastructure manufacturers and supply chains, we respectfully request that you exercise your authority to preempt contracting with Chinese owned or subsidized companies for our critical airport infrastructure.

We thank you for your commitment to the stability and safety of airports in the U.S during this COVID-19 pandemic.  Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions.

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