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Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Moving quickly to thwart the president's $1.4 billion deal to save Chinese telecom manufacturer ZTE, lawmakers attached a new provision Monday to a must-pass defense authorization bill.

What they're saying: President Trump's deal is not just a national security problem, said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who introduced the amendment along with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and a bipartisan posse of cosponsors — it's also bad dealmaking. "He got rolled," Van Hollen told Axios.

Why it matters: The new amendment, first announced last Thursday, will undo any deal for Commerce to reduce its original punishment against ZTE — a ban on U.S. technology that would effectively force one of China's largest firms to shut down.

  • Van Hollen originally had an amendment in the defense authorization that would prevent any new deals with China lessening penalties against a company that had been recently punished. But, as Van Hollen describes it, "the administration wanted to flout Congress’s intent and decided to put its foot down on the accelerator" to finish the deal before the defense authorization could pass.

The administration had been gung-ho about reaching a deal, treating it as a chip in broader trade negotiations."Too many jobs in China lost," tweeted the president.

Problems in the deal: On Sunday, White House trade advisor Peter Navarro told Fox, "It’s going to be three strikes you’re out on ZTE. If they do one more additional thing, they will be shut down." "They've had their strikes. They already struck out," said Van Hollen.

  • This is the second time in a year ZTE was caught selling to North Korea and Iran, notes Van Hollen, despite agreeing that a second infraction would be met with an effective death penalty — a ban from using US technology, including microprocessors that are critical in the manufacturer's products.
  • ZTE has been accused of sabotaging its products to aid Chinese spies tapping into U.S. communications networks.
  • "This undermines the credibility of sanctions. It shows that if you get caught and get caught again, you only get a slap on the wrist, "said Van Hollen.

Where it stands: The provision will have to survive a full Senate vote on the whole authorization bill and then needs both House approval and the president's signature to become law.

Go deeper

U.K. PM orders inquiry into Muslim lawmaker's discrimination claim

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London, England, last week. Photo: Ian Vogler/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a Cabinet Office inquiry into allegations from a Member of Parliament in his ruling Conservative Party that she was fired from a ministerial job due to her Muslim faith, per the BBC.

Driving the news: Nusrat Ghani told the Sunday Times she was informed that she was fired from her position as a junior transport minister in February 2020 after her "Muslimness was raised as an issue" and that it made her colleagues feel "uncomfortable."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Virginia attorney general fires Jan. 6 investigator from university post

McIntire Amphitheater at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. Photo: Robert Knopes/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The lead investigator for the Jan. 6 House select committee investigating the Capitol riot has been fired from his position as the University of Virginia's counsel by the state's new Republican attorney general, per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Democrats say the removal of Tim Heaphy from his post after some three years while he's on leave from the university to investigate the insurrection is likely "retribution" for the House probe — an accusation strongly denied by the office of state Attorney General Jason Miyares (R).

5 hours ago - World

Taiwan's military scrambles jets after detecting 39 Chinese warplanes

J-20 stealth fighter jets in Zhuhai in the Guangdong Province of China last year. Photo: Chen Jimin/China News Service via Getty Images

Taiwan's defense force said 39 Chinese warplanes flew into its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Sunday.

Why it matters: The largest Chinese air force incursion into the zone since October came a day after the U.S. and Japanese navies conducted a joint exercise in the Philippine Sea.