Lawmakers target ZTE, Huawei in defense bill

Lawmakers target ZTE, Huawei in defense bill
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A bipartisan group of senators is trying to use the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to target Chinese technology companies.

On Thursday, Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Opposition to refugees echoes one of America's most shameful moments White House defends CDC outreach to teachers union MORE (R-Ark.), Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenFinancial market transactions should not be taxed or restricted Van Hollen says members should stand with Cheney on election claims Democratic fissures start to show after Biden's first 100 days MORE (D-Md.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Republicans welcome the chance to work with Democrats on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney sideshow distracts from important battle over Democrats' partisan voting bill MORE (D-N.Y.) introduced an amendment to the NDAA that would restore the Commerce Department’s penalties on ZTE for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea.


The Commerce Department announced earlier Thursday that it had reached a deal to lift penalties on ZTE following pressure from President TrumpDonald TrumpProject Veritas surveilled government officials to expose anti-Trump sentiments: report Cheney: Fox News has 'a particular obligation' to refute election fraud claims The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? MORE. Lawmakers who supported the sanctions said they're frustrated with the decision to ease up on penalties against ZTE. 

The amendment would also ban government agencies from buying or leasing telecommunications equipment and services from Chinese telecom firms Huawei and ZTE and ban the government from providing loans to or subsidizing either company.

“Both parties in Congress must come together to bring the hammer down on these companies rather than offer them a second chance, and this new bipartisan amendment will do just that,” Schumer said.

He and other lawmakers say that they are concerned about the potential national security concerns that companies like ZTE and Huawei pose. Both companies are cozy with the Chinese government, and politicians fear that they could be pressured into providing the government a backdoor into Americans' communications on their devices.

The senators' amendment follows similar efforts in the House to crack down on Chinese tech giants with their version of the NDAA.

In May, Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoHispanic Democrats slam four Republicans over Jan. 6 vote in new ads Democrats want Arizona to reject mapping firm's application to redraw districts GOP lawmaker barricaded himself in bathroom with sword during Capitol riot MORE (D-Ariz.), Duncan HunterDuncan HunterTrump denies Gaetz asked him for blanket pardon Gaetz, on the ropes, finds few friends in GOP Trust, transparency, and tithing is not enough to sustain democracy MORE (R-Calif.) and Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherSenate panel approves bill that would invest billions in tech Overnight Energy: 5 takeaways from the Colonial Pipeline attack | Colonial aims to 'substantially' restore pipeline operations by end of week | Three questions about Biden's conservation goals Hillicon Valley: Colonial Pipeline attack underscores US energy's vulnerabilities | Biden leading 'whole-of-government' response to hack | Attorneys general urge Facebook to scrap Instagram for kids MORE (R-Wis.) introduced amendments to the NDAA that aimed to block products from both Chinese tech firms from the U.S.

The legislative proposals come amid a larger movement by lawmakers and government officials to keep Chinese technology companies out of the U.S. In January, members of Congress pressured AT&T into scrapping a deal with Huawei to sell its phones.

In May, the Pentagon banned ZTE and Huawei products from being sold on military bases, all on the grounds of national security concerns.

Updated at 3:51 p.m.