U.S. Senate eyes tightened restrictions on Chinese semiconductors

U.S. Senate Majority Whip Cornyn and Senate Minority Leader Schumer talk as they attend ceremonies for the late former U.S. President George H.W. Bush inside the U.S. Capitol rotunda in Washington
U.S. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer talk while Senator Orrin Hatch (L-Rear) looks on as they attend ceremonies for the late former U.S. President George H.W. Bush inside the U.S. Capitol rotunda in Washington, D.C., U.S., December 3, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Pool

WASHINGTON, Nov 28 (Reuters) - The Democratic leader of the U.S. Senate urged lawmakers on Monday to back his proposal to bar the U.S. government from doing business with companies that use semiconductors made by producers the Pentagon considers Chinese military contractors.

"If American business wants the federal government to buy their products or services, they shouldn't be using the kind of Chinese-made chips that, because of Chinese government involvement, put our national security at risk," Senator Chuck Schumer said in remarks opening the Senate after its Thanksgiving holiday recess. "We need our government and our economy to rely on chips made right here in America."

Schumer and Republican Senator John Cornyn introduced their proposal as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, an annual bill setting policy for the Department of Defense expected to pass the Senate and House of Representatives in December.

As one of the only major pieces of legislation Congress passes every year, the NDAA is closely watched by a broad swath of industry and other interests because it determines everything from purchases of ships and aircraft to pay increases for the troops and how to address geopolitical threats.

Lawmakers also use the bill as a vehicle for a wide range of policy measures. The proposal from Schumer and Cornyn would broaden an existing ban on government use of Chinese chips.

The 2023 NDAA authorizes more than $800 billion in spending.

"We need to stay tough on the Chinese government and its actions," Schumer said.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, additional reporting by Katharine Jackson; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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Patricia Zengerle has reported from more than 20 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and China. An award-winning Washington-based national security and foreign policy reporter who also has worked as an editor, Patricia has appeared on NPR, C-Span and other programs, spoken at the National Press Club and attended the Hoover Institution Media Roundtable. She is a recipient of the Edwin M. Hood Award for Diplomatic Correspondence.