In addition to keeping the Commerce Department penalties in place, the bill bans government agencies from buying or leasing telecommunications equipment and services from ZTE and Chinese telecom firm Huawei, as well as banning the government from providing loans to or subsidizing either company.
The Senate moved to block President Trump‘s deal to save Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE despite pushback from the White House.
Senators passed an annual defense policy bill on Monday that included a provision keeping in place the penalties against ZTE despite a deal reached earlier this month by the Trump administration.
The provision — spearheaded by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — sparked backlash from the White House, which is signaling it will try to remove it from the final bill.
“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.
GOP Sen. David Perdue (Ga.), a close ally of Trump’s, tried unsuccessfully to remove the provision last week, arguing that the current Senate bill “would trample on the separation of powers and undercut the Trump administration’s authority to impose these penalties.”
The back-and-forth comes after the Trump administration announced earlier this month that it had reached a deal to lift penalties against the company in exchange for ZTE paying a $1 billion fine and embedding a U.S.-selected compliance team in the firm.
But the deal rattled lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including otherwise close allies of Trump’s.
“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,” Cotton, Schumer, Rubio and Van Hollen said in a statement after the Senate’s vote.
BY JORDAIN CARNEY – 06/18/18