The bizarre recent tale of ZTE is getting another wrinkle. Earlier today, a bipartisan House Appropriations Committee unanimously voted to accept an amendment to uphold sanctions against the company.
The amendment to the 2019 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill is, of course, being viewed as a rebuke of the president, whose tweets over the weekend appeared to suggest a softening on the seven-year ban imposed by the Department of Commerce last month.
In fact, the amendment’s author, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, called out Trump by name on social media, adding in a press release tied to the news, “This amendment, which passed with the unanimous support of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, shows that, when the United States enacts sanctions, we stand behind them.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the release name checks not just the sanctions violations that led to the export ban, but also claims of spying that have put the company in the crosshairs of U.S. intelligence agencies. It’s a complicated series of events that I went into a bit more detail over here.
Trump, meanwhile, surprised the world by suggesting that he was working with the Chinese president to help ZTE find a way around the seven-year ban that has threatened to wipe the company off the map. The president cited job losses in China as his major motivator. That statement was met with bipartisan disapproval and Trump appeared to walk it back yesterday in another tweet, accusing The Washington Post and CNN of writing “false stories.”
It’s clear, however, that ZTE is being viewed as an important stumbling block as trade tensions increase between the two superpowers. The bill carrying the new amendment will come under consideration by the House of Representatives next month.