Democratic and Republican lawmakers have said they believe ZTE's sales to Iran represent particularly "dangerous" breaches of US national security.
ZTE Corp's (000063.SZ) settlement with the U.S. Commerce Department that would allow China's No. 2 telecommunications equipment maker to resume business with U.S. suppliers was made public on Monday, days after the company agreed to pay a $1 billion fine, overhaul its leadership and meet other conditions.
ZTE must replace the boards of directors of two corporate entities within 30 days, according to a 21-page order signed June 8 and published on Monday on the Commerce Department website along with the settlement agreement.
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 USA law enforcement monitoring the company's actions. The intelligence community suspects the company's devices are mechanisms for espionage that can be remotely tracked and used to steal intellectual property.
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio added that the amendment was "Great news!"
Cotton and Rubio, along with Sen. Last week, the Trump administration announced a deal with ZTE.
ZTE employs 70,000 workers in China and is the fourth-largest vendor of mobile phones in the U.S.
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.
The deal implemented a $1 billion penalty against ZTE and required the addition of a USA -chosen compliance team to monitor the company.
Despite bipartisan support for the measure, Republicans are divided over whether it is wise to cross the president on this matter - and it is not clear that the effort to stymie Trump's deal will make it to the final version of the defense bill.
The ZTE provision was included as part of a non-controversial "manager's package" of changes, which is likely to be easily approved.
"The Senate is saying loudly and in a bipartisan fashion that the president is dead wrong to back off on ZTE", said Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat.
"We're just continuing the conversation", said Sen.
But today, via The Wall Street Journal, Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle introduced legislation into a popular defense bill that would reimpose the original punishments on ZTE, overruling Trump's deal. "I want to keep the conversation going".