Sen. Rubio Slams Conferees for Stripping ZTE Provision

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) says the U.S. got played by China and Chinese telecom ZTE.

"I don't understand why [my colleagues] would give in so easily, so quickly and cave on something that would have put them [ZTE and Chiese telecom Huawei] out of business by denying them access to U.S. semiconductors. It makes no sense to me. But we got played again and this cannot continue to happen."

Related: Sen. Warner Slams GOP for Apparent ZTE 'Cave'

That came after the conference reconciliation of the National Defense Authorization Act failed to include a Senate-passed provision reinstating the ban on U.S. tech imports to ZTE, which the Trump Administration had lifted after striking a deal with ZTE.

Related: Chabot Says Trump ZTE Aid Was Shortsighted

President Trump had directed Commerce to strike that deal after after talking with the President of China, saying he was concerned about the loss of Chinese jobs--ZTE relies on U.S. chips for its smart phones and other tech.

The Senate voted last month ( to exclude ZTE technology from government contracts, and additionally to restore trade sanctions on the Chinese telecom that President Donald Trump had Commerce lift, citing his meeting with China's president and a potential loss of Chinese jobs.

The House had already passed a version of the bill that disallowed ZTE tech from government contracts but did not restore the trade sanctions, with the two versions then going to conference to resolve the differences, after which the bill must be re-voted.

Related: Rep. Chabot Calls Trump's ZTE Aid Shortsighted

After ZTE allegedly failed to comply with the terms of a settlement over illegally shipping telecom equipment to Iran and North Korea, Commerce banned U.S. companies from exporting their technology to the company for seven years. Not long after, the U.S. also banned the sale of phones from ZTE and Chinese telecom manufacturer Huawei on U.S. military bases.

But after a meeting with China, Trump directed the Commerce department to help ZTE; Commerce then proceeded to strike an agreement with the company that lifted the ban.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.