The United States Senate on Monday voted to reverse President Trump’s lifeline deal with Chinese company ZTE, agreeing to reinstate the Commerce Department’s denial order preventing the firm from obtaining American technologies over the next seven years. The move comes as a bipartisan effort citing national security concerns, with Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton joining forces with their Democratic colleagues Chris Van Hollen and Chuck Schumer to lead the opposition to the President’s decision to save ZTE from what was widely interpreted as certain bankruptcy.
Most other representatives agreed with the new anti-ZTE sentiment, pushing to continue preventing ZTE from accessing Qualcomm’s chips, an up-to-date version of Google’s Android operating system, and a wide variety of other components crucial to the firm’s smartphone business. “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,” the four Senators said in a joint statement earlier this week. Ultimately, the effort to reinstate ZTE’s ban was approved by 85 Senate representatives, with only ten voting against the move. The lawmakers also resolved to introduce the reversed ban as a National Defense Authorization Act amendment, bundling it with a bill that already passed the House and would see the government shut down if it doesn’t end up being passed.
The amendment will still be discussed by the lower Congress house where it will have to gather another two-thirds majority in order to override a potential presidential veto. One of President Trump’s close aides described the lifeline deal as a “personal favor” to Chinese President Xi Jinping, suggesting the head of the state would attempt blocking any reversal of the new settlement going forward. The President has many allies in the House and with the mid-terms being close, a supermajority approval of the amendment may not end up happening. The move would also block the federal government from purchasing any equipment from both ZTE and Huawei, with the latter being another China-based firm that was previously accused of posing a national security risk to the country.