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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

Prosecutors begin closing arguments in Chauvin trial

Steve Schleicher, an attorney for the prosecution in Derek Chauvin's trial, began closing arguments on Monday by describing in detail George Floyd's last moments — crying out for help and surrounded by strangers, as Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

Why it matters: The jury's verdict in Chauvin's murder trial, seen by advocates as one of the most crucial civil rights cases in decades, will reverberate across the country and have major implications in the fight for racial justice.

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3 hours ago - Sports

European soccer is at war

Liverpool celebrating its 2019 Champions League victory. Photo: Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Europe's biggest soccer clubs have established The Super League, a new midweek tournament that would compete with — and threaten the very existence of — the Champions League.

Why it matters: This new league, set to start in 2023, "would bring about the most significant restructuring of elite European soccer since the 1950s, and could herald the largest transfer of wealth to a small set of teams in modern sports history," writes NYT's Tariq Panja.

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4 hours ago - Economy & Business

2021's expected earnings blowout begins

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

First-quarter earnings so far have been very strong, outpacing even the rosy expectations from Wall Street and that's a trend that's expected to continue for all of 2021. S&P 500 companies are on pace for one of the best quarters of positive earnings surprises on record, according to FactSet.

Why it matters: The results show that not only has the earnings recession ended for U.S. companies, but firms are performing better than expected and the economy may be justifying all the hype.