White House warns Congress against trying to block ZTE deal

White House warns Congress against trying to block ZTE deal
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The White House on Wednesday pushed back on legislative efforts to reverse President TrumpDonald John TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates MORE’s deal with China that eases penalties on Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE, helping to revive the company.

White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley defended the administration's agreement to impose lessened penalties on the company, maintaining that the punishment was "massive" and "historic."

“This will ensure ZTE pays for its violations and gives our government complete oversight of their future activity without undue harm to American suppliers and their workers," Gidley said in a statement.

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“The Administration will work with Congress to ensure the final [National Defense Authorization Act] conference report respects the separation of powers," he added.

Last month, Trump made a deal to reduce the Department of Commerce’s penalties leveled at ZTE for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and North Korea. The penalties, which barred ZTE from purchasing U.S. made equipment, had effectively shut the company down.

However, lawmakers are attempting to use the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to stop Trump’s deal.

A group of lawmakers including Sens. Tom CottonThomas (Tom) Bryant CottonUS officials express optimism negotiations with Iran possible Cotton: 'Healthy skepticism warranted' when dealing with Democrats on immigration Cotton: I hope Trump's statement 'got through' to Iran's leaders MORE (R-Ark.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenTrump planning Air Force One flyover during July 4 celebration at Mall: report Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw Democrats ask Fed to probe Trump's Deutsche Bank ties MORE (D-Md.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMcConnell-backed Super PAC says nominating Roy Moore would be 'gift wrapping' seat to Dems McConnell vows to 'vigorously' oppose Moore's Senate bid Pelosi: Trump delay on Harriet Tubman is 'an insult to the hopes of millions' MORE (D-N.Y.) inserted an amendment into the proposed NDAA that would reverse Trump’s deal to revive ZTE.

The Senate is expected to pass the NDAA as soon as this week.

Since Trump announced his intention to ease penalties against ZTE, a bipartisan chorus of lawmakers have spoken out against the president's plans.

They argue that ZTE is a threat to national security because its technology gives the Chinese government backdoor access to spy on the U.S. through ZTE phones.

Accordingly, Congress has taken other action to keep ZTE and other Chinese manufacturers out of the U.S. by pressuring AT&T to scrap a deal to sell Chinese phones in the U.S. Lawmakers have also put forth legislation that would prevent the government from obtaining contracts with ZTE and its larger Chinese phone competitor, Huawei.