Schumer: Congress must stop reported ZTE deal 'in its tracks'

Schumer: Congress must stop reported ZTE deal 'in its tracks'
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall MORE (D-N.Y.) is urging Congress to squash any attempt by the Trump administration to save Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE amid reports that the U.S. and Beijing have reached an agreement.

"Simply a fine and changing board members would not protect America’s economic or national security, and would be a huge victory for President Xi [Jinping], and a dramatic retreat by President TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE. Both parties in Congress should come together to stop this deal in its tracks," Schumer said in a statement.

“If the administration goes through with this reported deal, President Trump would be helping make China great again," the Senate Democratic leader added.

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Schumer's statement came after Reuters, citing a senior congressional aide, reported that a deal has been reached to lift a ban that prevents ZTE from buying U.S. products.

As part of the agreement, according to Reuters, ZTE will have to pay a fine, place American compliance offers in its company and change its management team.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not confirm the deal, telling Reuters: “We’ll let you know when we have an announcement on that front."

The potential agreement comes as reports have been circulating for days that the Trump administration and Beijing were negotiating a deal to save the Chinese telecom giant.

The Commerce Department imposed the ban and sanctions after ZTE violated U.S. sanctions by selling equipment to North Korea and Iran.

Trump said on Tuesday that there was no deal but added that he may ask for a fine of roughly $1.3 billion, new management for the telecom giant and for China to buy more American products.

And Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinBipartisan housing finance reform on the road less taken Trump at a pivotal crossroads on Iran Overnight Defense: Trump says he doesn't want war with Iran | Pentagon chief calls attack on Saudi oil facilities 'unprecedented' | Administration weighs response | 17th US service member killed in Afghanistan this year MORE and Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossOvernight Energy: Top presidential candidates to skip second climate forum | Group sues for info on 'attempts to politicize' NOAA | Trump allows use of oil reserve after Saudi attacks Group sues Trump administration for info related to 'attempts to politicize NOAA' NOAA chief praises agency scientists after statement backing up Trump tweet MORE came to Capitol Hill on Wednesday evening to update senators on the status of the negotiations with China and ZTE.

Both Mnuchin and Ross declined to comment after they left the closed-door meeting, but GOP Sen. John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats press for action on election security On The Money: NY prosecutors subpoena eight years of Trump tax returns | Senators struggle to get spending bills off ground as shutdown looms | Progressive tax-the-rich push gains momentum | Trump faces dwindling leverage with China Senators struggle to get spending bills off ground as shutdown looms MORE (Texas) told reporters that the administration seemed "pretty far along" in the talks.

The administration's negotiations over ZTE have sparked backlash from Democrats as well as some Republicans.

Cornyn said earlier this week that a bill that includes language restricting the the ability of the Commerce Department to lift penalties against ZTE if they aren't following the law will be in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual policy bill.

"It's been adopted in the NDAA and it will remain as part of the base bill," he said. "I expect it to be part of the NDAA."