The U.S. government is torn on what to do with ZTE. Following President Donald Trump’s involvement to reach a deal with the Chinese telecommunications giant, Congress looks prepared to reimpose the sales ban.
Many members of Congress are concerned about the company spying on Americans while the White House continues viewing this as a trade-related matter.
The Senate is set to reimpose the ban on ZTE stopping it from doing business with American suppliers, voting 85-10 in favor of that. It would be included as a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The ‘must-pass’ bill lays out the country’s defense policy.
ZTE was caught violating sanctions put in place after illegally shipping products to Iran and North Korea. The U.S. Department of Commerce issued a seven-year ban at first; however, the Trump administration has since lifted the ban and announced new sanctions that allow the company to remain intact.
Both sides of the aisle, at least in the Senate, are largely in agreement that ZTE poses a threat to national security. Meanwhile, the take from the House isn’t so clear. The House will discuss adding the same provision to its version of the bill.
If the House does include the provision with the NDAA, we’re due for another showdown between the White House and Congress.
The White House is already sending top aides to discuss the vote with lawmakers. Trump will also visit Congress to talk about ZTE at some point. Even though the Senate passed the bill, it’s on the House to send in for Trump’s signature. Congress, however, could bypass the possibility of a veto by getting two-thirds majorities in both chambers.
Based on the provision laid out by the Senate, ZTE and other Chinese companies like it would be banned for one year. The Trump administration, according to Politico, would then have to “certify” their cooperation with U.S. investigators to return to business as usual.
ZTE and Huawei are also unable to sell anything to the U.S. government under the provision.