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

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Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), filed their amendment to claw back the Trump administration's ZTE deal the same day it was announced.

Under orders from Mr. Trump, the Commerce Department last week weakened penalties on ZTE, reducing a near-death sentence to a $1 billion fine and continued oversight.

Cotton suggested if the bill is passed by the Senate and signed by Trump, the amendment would likely force ZTE out of business by blocking the deal.

After it was exposed that ZTE violated US trade embargoes and directly lied to officials about the conduct, the Commerce Department banned USA exports to the company as punishment.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC at the time that ZTE would replace its management team and board and embed a new department for compliance with the U.S.

"Last night was a bad night for ZTE supporters", analysts with Veda Partners, an investment advisory firm based in Bethesda, Maryland, wrote in a research report.

And the latter "insist they need to be better informed about the how's and why's of the ZTE deal".

A number of senators took to Twitter to rebuff Trump's decision to save ZTE. "But I don't think there's any debate about that", he said.

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The defense-authorization bill is essentially a "must pass" measure that typically passes through Congress each year with support from both Republicans and Democrats. Senators on both sides of the aisle criticized Trump for calling on the Commerce Department to reverse its position, with many saying ZTE poses a risk to U.S. national security. The Senate Republican cosponsors are Florida's Marco Rubio and Maine's Susan Collins.

The action adds to the uncertainty over whether the USA on Friday will move to implement its announced US$50 billion tariffs on Chinese goods.

Trump had said the ZTE deal was a precursor to any broader US-China trade negotiations.

The vote follows a tumultuous few months for ZTE.

With a market value of around US$19.28 billion, ZTE is the world's fourth-largest telecom equipment maker after Huawei Technologies, Ericsson and Nokia.

Lifting the ban under Trump's deal would result in ZTE still buying from United States suppliers, but paying massive fines upwards of $1 billion with United States law enforcement monitoring the company's actions.

Lifting the ban wasn't a popular political move, however, and a bipartisan group of senators is working to reverse it. It also issued a public apology.

The Senate didn't drag its feet in its effort to revoke.

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