WASHINGTON - The acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget is seeking a two-year delay of a ban prohibiting companies that do business with Chinese telecom giant Huawei from providing services to the US government.
In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and nine members of Congress, acting OMB Director Russell Vought said the delay would give companies more time to comply with the ban, which is set to take effect in one year and one month.
If the delay is approved, the ban would take effect in three years and one month.
"The Administration believes, based on feedback from impacted stakeholders, that this additional preparatory work will better ensure the effective implementation of the prohibition without compromising desired security objectives," Vought said in the letter.
News of the letter was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Huawei is the world's largest telecommunications equipment-maker and has significant backing from the Chinese government. The Justice Department has accused it of violating Iran sanctions, among other things.
The ban is one of three by the US government against Huawei. Last year, President Donald Trump signed a defense-spending bill that barred the federal government and its contractors from doing business with Huawei and several other Chinese companies, citing national security grounds. And the Commerce Department last month imposed a penalty on the firm that makes it difficult for it to do business with any US company.
Some US tech companies have applied for licenses that would allow them to continue to sell to Huawei, arguing that the Commerce Department ban could harm their bottom lines and their ability to innovate.
On Sunday night, Jacob Wood, an OMB spokesman, said: "There is not a change to administration policy with regard to Huawei and would not delay the ban taking effect this year on the federal government doing business with them. It also would not stop or delay the restrictions Commerce announced on the sale of US technology to Huawei. This is about ensuring that companies who do business with the US government or receive federal grants and loans have time to extricate themselves from doing business with Huawei and other Chinese tech companies listed in the NDAA (National Defense Authorisation Act)."
The proposed delay would stretch past Trump's first term in office and could force the next president, if Trump loses next year, to decide whether to continue the policy.