Senate Introduces Plan To Thwart Trump's ZTE Deal

A group of Senators have introduced legislation that would stop President Trump from dropping its ban on Chinese telecoms giant ZTE buying products from US companies.

While its chances of passing are less than 50-50, Axios points out that there is significant anger among lawmakers over ZTE's repeated violations of US sanctions, including the fact that the firm has been twice caught selling banned tech to North Korea and Iran. The ban on using US technology would've effectively killed ZTE, according to Axios.


The measure, introduced as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, will see its fate decided next week, when debate begins on the NDAA, a routine policy bill that Congress passes every year, according to Reuters.

Here are a few key points from Axios:

  • The amendment to amend the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act is helmed by Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and co-sponsored by Sens. Chuck Schumer, (D-N.Y.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

  • Van Hollen had already successfully introduced an amendment that would thwart future deals with China to reduce penalties, crafted under the assumption the NDAA would beat the Trump administration's China deal to the fininsh line. It didn't.

  • Many lawmakers suspect ZTE of sabotaging equipment sold to U.S. companies to help China spy on the U.S.

Reuters says strong backing from the bill would be out of place for Republicans who control Congress and have generally been strong supporters of President Trump's legislative agenda, with only a handful ever voting against the White House. Furthermore, the White House has insisted that there's no "quid pro quo" involved and that other trade measures being discussed are "quite separate" from the decision to reduce ZTE's penalty to a $1.3 billion fine, plus the addition of some toothless oversight board.