EXCLUSIVE Senator Cotton delays vote on Biden’s pick for powerful China job at Commerce

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Senator Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas., speaks throughout a Senate Judiciary Committee listening to in Hart Senate Workplace Constructing, Washington, U.S., September 29, 2021. Tom Williams/Pool by way of REUTERS/Information

WASHINGTON, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Republican Senator Tom Cotton is holding up a vote to substantiate Alan Estevez because the U.S. Commerce Division’s undersecretary for trade and safety till he will get solutions to troublesome questions on know-how exports to China.

In a letter dated Oct. 14 and seen by Reuters, Cotton asks Estevez to decide to strengthening U.S. restrictions on exporting semiconductor software program and know-how to China and to accelerating the roll-out of recent guidelines to tighten export controls for superior applied sciences.

The letter, additionally signed by Republican senator Invoice Hagerty, asks Estevez to contemplate extending a Trump administration rule – that at present solely applies to Huawei (HWT.UL) – to blacklisted Chinese language corporations with hyperlinks to the army or human rights violations. That rule additional restricted entry for the Chinese language telecoms big to superior semiconductor chips.

The job on the Commerce Division oversees exports to all nations however selections over cutting-edge know-how exports to China have given the place super energy over Chinese language corporations depending on U.S. know-how lately.

The Division of Commerce didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Many trade watchers noticed the selection of Estevez, a former Protection Division official with a restricted monitor document on China, as a protected guess.

However Cotton – or another senator – can maintain up a fast-track affirmation course of that requires consent by all 100 senators.

For the reason that Republican has not had the possibility to query the nominee, he’s pausing the affirmation course of till he receives solutions to the questions posed within the letter, a Cotton staffer stated.

Republicans will not be the one ones holding up Estevez’s nomination. Democratic Senator Bob Menendez got here out towards Estevez when the Senate Banking Committee took up his affirmation and likewise opposes expediting a last full Senate vote.

His opposition stems from the previous Pentagon official’s response to questions relating to returning oversight of U.S. firearms exports to the State Division.

“I used to be not glad with Mr. Estevez’s non-answers as as to if the Biden administration was planning to meet President Biden’s marketing campaign promise and eventually reverse the Trump administration’s harmful stripping of oversight authority of U.S. firearm gross sales from the State Division’s Munitions Listing to the Commerce Division,” Menendez stated in a press release.

The Trump administration transferred jurisdiction on exports of semiautomatic pistols, assault rifles and associated firearms from State to the less-restrictive Commerce Management Listing, which additionally eradicated congressional evaluate for such gross sales.

Estevez shall be in good firm. Different Biden nominees are being held up by Senator Ted Cruz, who’s to halt a Russia-to-Germany gasoline pipeline, White Home officers and Democrats in Congress say.

Estevez testified final month earlier than the Senate banking committee, which later voted in favor of advancing his bid to the complete Senate.

Through the listening to and underneath questioning from Hagerty, Estevez stated he anticipated to maintain Huawei on a blacklist except “issues change” and pledged to “have a look at” Honor, a former unit of Huawei, to see whether or not the Chinese language telecoms big was utilizing the spun-off firm to reduce or circumvent its personal blacklist designation. Republican senators the Biden administration to blacklist Honor.

Within the letter on Thursday, the senators additionally requested for Estevez to say whether or not he thought the worldwide unfold of Huawei Cloud Companies posed a knowledge safety and privateness concern for the USA, and whether or not Honor ought to be positioned on the Commerce Division’s commerce blacklist.

Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Alexandra Alper, Enhancing by Rosalba O’Brien


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