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 CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonGOP senators condemn 'vulgar' messages directed at Collins over Kavanaugh GOP turns its fire on Google Overnight Defense: Trump denies report he's looking at Mattis replacements | Inhofe officially gets Armed Services gavel | Trump revives shutdown threat MORE (R-Ark.), Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenOvernight Defense: Details on defense spending bill | NATO chief dismisses talk of renaming HQ for McCain | North Korea warns US over cyber allegations Hillicon Valley: Trump signs off on sanctions for election meddlers | Russian hacker pleads guilty over botnet | Reddit bans QAnon forum | FCC delays review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger | EU approves controversial copyright law Trump authorizes sanctions against foreign governments that interfere in US elections MORE (D-Md.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump slams Sessions in exclusive Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation 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.

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The Commerce Department announced earlier Thursday that it had reached a deal to lift penalties on ZTE following pressure from President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency 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 GallegoOne year later: Puerto Rico battles with bureaucracy after Maria Grassley to administration: You must consult Congress on refugee cap Arizona voters like Kyl but few think he'll stick around MORE (D-Ariz.), Duncan HunterDuncan Duane HunterTrump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency Indicted GOP lawmaker to stay on ballot in New York this fall: report Hoyer lays out government reform blueprint MORE (R-Calif.) and Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherOvernight Defense: Details on defense spending bill | NATO chief dismisses talk of renaming HQ for McCain | North Korea warns US over cyber allegations NATO head shoots down idea of naming new headquarters after McCain Overnight Defense: Officials rush to deny writing anonymous op-ed | Lawmakers offer measure on naming NATO headquarters after McCain | US, India sign deal on sharing intel 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.