The Senate voted Monday to block the Trump administration’s deal with Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE after the administration warned against circumventing the “historic” deal.
As part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Senate has included a measure to prevent President Donald Trump from removing penalties against the ZTE after it had violated sanctions against North Korea and Iran.
A bipartisan group of senators — including Republican Marco Rubio of Florida and Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York — slammed the president’s decision to make a deal with the company, which the Department of Defense banned from selling on U.S. military bases around the world for security reasons.
“We’re heartened that both parties made it clear that protecting American jobs and national security must come first when making deals with countries like China, which has a history of having little regard for either. It is vital that our colleagues in the House keep this bipartisan provision in the bill as it heads towards a conference,” said Schumer, Rubio, and others in a statement after the vote.
The vote is the first step to keep the Commerce Department penalties’ against ZTE in place. The NDAA forbids government agencies from buying or leasing ZTE and Chinese telecom firm Huawei telecommunications ‘equipment and services.
Now the House needs to ratify the bill in its version to include similar provisions, get a majority vote from both chambers, and get Trump’s signature.
As part of the deal Trump made with the ZTE, the company was set to pay a $1 billion fine, put $400 million in a U.S.-approved bank, and replace the board of directors. If the company violated the terms of the agreement, the U.S. would keep the $400 million and, as White House trade advisor Peter Navarro put it Fox News on June 10, the U.S. will shut the company down.
“It’s going to be three strikes you’re out on ZTE,” Navarro said. “If they do one more additional thing, they will be shut down.”
White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley cautioned the senate against voting to block the “historic” deal on June 13. (RELATED: Trump Admin Pushes Back Against Congress’s Attempt To Block ZTE Deal)
“This will ensure ZTE pays for its violations and gives our government complete oversight of their future activity without undue harm to American suppliers and their workers,” Gidley said.
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