House moves to stop Pentagon from hiring firms helping N. Korea e-attacks

House lawmakers have approved a provision that would prevent the Pentagon from conducting business with telecommunications firms that knowingly support North Korean cyberattacks.

Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.) offered the amendment which was approved Friday by the full House to be included in an annual defense policy bill.

The provision is aimed at barring the Pentagon from doing business with telecommunications firms found “to have knowingly assisted or facilitated a cyberattack carried out by or on behalf of the government” of North Korea.

Upon enactment of the law, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats would be required within 30 days to make a list of the telecommunications contractors associated with North Korean cyberattacks.

Under the amendment, President Trump would be authorized to waive the prohibition should it become justified under the auspices of national security.

Pittenger spoke on the House floor Friday, positioning the provision as a tactic to punish Chinese firms that are knowingly supporting North Korean aggression.

“While my amendment is simple in nature, it strikes to the heart of what I believe to be the cornerstone of North Korea policy,” Pittenger said Friday. “For far too long, China has enabled the North Korean government to pursue nuclear development, global provocation and egregious human rights violations.

“My amendment is one of many steps that Congress needs to take to demonstrate to China that we will no longer tolerate its alliance and partnership with North Korea,” Pittenger said.

While debating the House version of the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, lawmakers agreed to the amendment by a voice vote, along with a list of others. Debate on the defense bill is expected to conclude on Friday.

The Senate has not yet taken up its version of the bill, but Pittenger expects his provision to garner broad support there.

“I think it will be in good shape,” he said.

The 2014 Sony Pictures hack, which the U.S. government traced to hackers associated with Pyongyang, drew attention to North Korea’s cyber capabilities.

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