In Humiliating Rebuke, U.S. Senate Just Blocked Trump-ZTE Deal: Report
In a major rebuke to President Donald Trump, the U.S.Senate on Tuesday adopted a measure that would block the administration’s deal with Chinese telecom giant ZTE, pitting the president against Congress on what many senators say is an issue of national security.
The Senate’s move comes less than a week after the administration struck an agreement with ZTE that would have kept the telecom company engaged in the U.S. market. It also comes less than 24 hours after Trump’s historic meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
According to NBC News, the president’s deal with ZTE would have allowed the company to get reorganized and sell its products inside the U.S.
But the bipartisan Senate amendment, which has been added to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act, would essentially kill that agreement by retroactively reinstating financial penalties and continuing the prohibition on ZTE’s ability to sell to the U.S. government, NBC News reports
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who is one of the co-sponsors of the measure, said that the amendment would likely put ZTE out of business.
“ZTE said they couldn’t remain in business, or at least not remain anything other than a cell phone hand-held business, if the denial order from March was in effect. And this would essential put the denial order back into effect,” Cotton told reporters.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer praised the move in a statement.
“The fact that a bipartisan group of senators came together this quickly is a testament to how bad the Trump administration’s ZTE deal is and how we will not shy away from holding the president’s feet to the fire when it comes to keeping his promise to be tough on China,” Schumer said.
ZTE is considered by the intelligence community to be a mechanism for espionage by, in part, selling phones in the U.S. that can be tracked and enabled to steal intellectual property.
The U.S. slapped sanctions on the telecom company in 2016, prohibiting the company from doing business in the U.S. for seven years, when it violated U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea. The Commerce Department placed additional sanctions on the company after it failed to follow through with its reorganization plan and lied to the U.S. government about it.