Congress Moving To Block Trump Deal With ZTE Over Iran Sanctions Violations

Wang Zhao  AFP  Getty Images The ZTE logo is seen on a building in Beijing

Trump's ZTE deal that would save the company may not happen after all.

Since the language is tucked into a larger defense bill, Trump would have no choice but to pass it.

The amendment will also ban government agencies from trading telecommunications equipment and services with Chinese telecom companies ZTE and Huawei, as well as from providing loans to or subsidizing either company, according to The Hill. The ban would essentially cripple ZTE to the point of potential bankruptcy. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), filed their amendment to claw back the Trump administration's ZTE deal the same day it was announced. If it passes, Trump would be forced to sign the law himself, as he would be unable to separate the popular defense bill from the ZTE sanctions.

Trump has said he reviewed the penalties as a personal favor to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

ZTE is back in business: What now?

Republican and Democratic lawmakers introduced the legislation last week and said they hoped the Senate would consider it as part of the NDAA, legislation Congress passes every year.


Senators plan to add a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual defense policy bill they're expecting to pass this week, that will ban USA suppliers from selling to ZTE, reported The Wall Street Journal.

The ZTE leniency also rubbed senators wrong since it came about the same time the president slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from USA allies including Canada and the European Union. However, it wouldn't be the first time the President chose the unexpected route. After all, a Congressional report from 2012 called ZTE and Huawei threats to US national security.

Republican and Democratic senators who support the original ZTE punishments feel strongly that ZTE's flagrant violations deserve the ultimate punishment, and not a "slap on the wrist" fine. But after the US government determined the company lied about its clean-up efforts, the Commerce Department imposed the death sentence, banning USA businesses from selling parts to ZTE, effectively kneecapping the company.

ZTE, the fourth largest smartphone vendor in the US, has been in the news nearly daily since the Commerce Department lifted a stay it placed on a USA export ban against the firm.

"Great news! Our bipartisan amendment restoring penalties on #ZTE is included in the #NDAA bill the Senate will be advancing to later this evening", Senator Marco Rubio said in a Twitter post. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said.

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