Senate adopts measure blocking Trump ZTE deal

Sergio Conner
June 14, 2018

A woman passes by a ZTE building in Beijing, China shortly after President Donald Trump tweeted about possibly reversing a ban on the tech giant in May.

The White House will aim to block legislative language before Congress that would block a Trump administration agreement allowing China's No. 2 telecommunications equipment maker, ZTE Corp., to resume business with USA suppliers, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

An amendment sponsored by Sens.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers have said they believe ZTE's sales to Iran represent particularly "dangerous" breaches of US national security.

ZTE pleaded guilty past year to conspiring to evade USA embargoes by selling US equipment to Iran.

ZTE employs 70,000 workers in China and is the fourth-largest vendor of mobile phones in the U.S.

Rubio, a Republican from Florida, is co-sponsor of the amendment, with Senators Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat from Maryland, and Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas.

The vote follows a tumultuous few months for ZTE. And then suddenly it wasn't, after US President Trump and the Department of Commerce inked a deal that gave ZTE another lease on life. Apparently, this amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act would put the export ban back in place with ZTE, restricting the company from using products originating in the United States.

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However, in May the president tweeted that he was working with China to keep ZTE running and hoped a deal would prevent "too many jobs in China" from being lost.

Per Trump's deal, ZTE will pay $1 billion in fines and put $400 million in escrow, as well as overhaul its board of directors.

The reaction to the move, as NPR's Dustin Dwyer reported, was "swift, negative and bipartisan".

ZTE cellphones in their packaging. After violating sanctions in Iran, ZTE was banned from buying parts and components from all American companies.

Ross was planning to brief senators on the ZTE deal Monday, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), another chief backer of the amendment.

The Senate was expected to pass its bill as soon as this week. "And we'll tackle it this week".

"The Administration will work with Congress to ensure the final NDAA conference report respects the separation of powers." said Hogan Gidley, a deputy press secretary for the White House.

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