Even as the Commerce Department was confirming a deal to remove an export ban affecting ZTE, Congress was moving to prevent government money to be used to buy ZTE equipment.
According to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who proposed the restriction, the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved the FY19 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill, which includes his provision to prevent those government funds to be used to buy telecom equipment from ZTE and fellow Chinese telecom Huawei "other high risk information systems."
Government intelligence officials are virtually unanimous in their view that both ZTE and Huawei tech poses a national security risk, a view shared by Sen. Rubio.
"These companies have direct links to the Chinese government and Communist Party," said Rubio of the Appropriations Committee passage. "Their products and services are used for espionage and intellectual property theft, and they have been putting the American people and economy at risk without consequence for far too long."
He noted the confluence of the vote with the Trump Administration's agreement with ZTE. “On the same day that the Administration announced it had reached a ‘deal’ with ZTE, my colleagues advanced this important measure," he said, "and I encourage Congress to remain clear-eyed and unified on the threat China poses to U.S. interests and national security.”