Bipartisan Senate effort aims to override Trump’s deal to save ZTE

WSJ U.S. Senate sets vote this week to legislate the

Visitors pass in front of the Chinese telecom giant ZTE booth February 26 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said that passing the defense measure is at the top of his to-do list this week.

Days after the Trump administration agreed to restore Chinese telecom firm ZTE's access to its US parts suppliers, a bipartisan group moved to block the deal.

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 Chinese smartphone and network equipment maker had been caught selling goods and services to North Korea and Iran, violating USA sanctions.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers have said they believe ZTE's sales to Iran represent particularly "dangerous" breaches of US national security.

We've come to expect the unexpected from Trump, but would he veto a defense bill just to save his ZTE deal?
The intelligence community suspects the company's devices are mechanisms for espionage that can be remotely tracked and used to steal intellectual property. The Senate Republican cosponsors are Florida's Marco Rubio and Maine's Susan Collins.

But a number of USA lawmakers aren't satisfied with that agreement, saying the issue extends beyond punishment and is more about national security.

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Cotton and Rubio, along with Sen. North Korea is largely dependent on economic ties with China, where leaders had claimed that absent a ZTE deal, the telecom giant would collapse.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was on Capitol Hill on Monday evening to speak with senators behind closed doors about the details of the ZTE deal, in a meeting that began shortly after the decision to include the amendment blocking the president's deal was announced.

It's expected that this new amendment will make its way into the National Defense Authorization Act which is also expected to make its way through Congress and finally signed into law by President Trump.

The ZTE provision was included as part of a non-controversial "manager's package" of changes, which is likely to be easily approved.

The amendment is spearheaded by Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton.

The ban was placed on ZTE to punish it for violating USA sanctions. John Cornyn (R-Tex.). "There'll be a conference between the House and the Senate on the defense authorization bill. I want to keep the conversation going".

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