Deal or no deal, the U.S. Senate has voted in favor of restoring a ban against Chinese manufacturer ZTE
. As we have previously reported, President Trump recently struck a deal with China and ZTE to lift the ban on the company receiving U.S. exports. The agreement required ZTE to fire some people, establish a compliance department ran by American-picked employees and pay $1 billion fine. Initially, the Commerce Department placed almost a decade-long ban on the company, for supposedly doing business with both Iran and North Korea. Chinese President Xi Jinping plead with the U.S. to save ZTE and President Trump agreed. Interestingly enough, while trying to save ZTE, Trump was also in the process of imposing stiff tariffs on other Chinese goods, which many fear would start a fierce trade war. For some, the move to save ZTE was seen as a balancing act or olive branch. Those intentions, if true, would soon be swept aside if the Senate has their way.
The Senate added an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act which restored the sanctions against ZTE. The vote passed 85-10 with obvious support from both sides of the aisle. The Defense Act was already voted on in the House and that version did not mention ZTE. Therefore, the ban is not in place yet. The bill will be sent to the house in a process called amendment exchange. Both chambers must agree on the same version of the bill. If they do, it will be sent to the President who can then veto the bill. It is important to note that several lawmakers involved in the amendment are scheduled to meet with President Trump, who has already said he will not sign any such bill. The ZTE ban still has a long way to go, especially if the President refuses to sign any bill containing such a provision. However, if sponsors of the ban somehow manage to find the support to override a veto it will surely be a blow to ZTE, Trump and China's already strained relationship with the U.S.