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 SchumerDon’t look for House GOP to defy Trump on border wall GOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win 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 TrumpAverage tax refunds down double-digits, IRS data shows White House warns Maduro as Venezuela orders partial closure of border with Colombia Trump administration directs 1,000 more troops to Mexican 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 MnuchinTrump considering meeting with China's Xi next month to finish trade deal U.S. farm exports expected to drop nearly billion amid US-China trade dispute Huawei CEO: Daughter's arrest was 'politically motivated' MORE and Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossFederal judge refuses to delay ruling on census citizenship question Washington bureaucrats are handing China keys to 5G kingdom EU prepared to respond to possible Trump auto tariffs 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 CornynSenate plots to avoid fall shutdown brawl Inviting Kim Jong Un to Washington Trump endorses Cornyn for reelection as O'Rourke mulls challenge 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."