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Johannes Eisele / AFP via Getty

A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation to reverse a deal the White House struck with Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE.

The backdrop: The U.S. has twice caught ZTE selling banned technology to North Korea and Iran. In April, the Department of Commerce punished the firm by barring them from using U.S. technology, including microprocessors. That effectively would have killed ZTE, but the White House announced Thursday the penalty would be reduced to a $1.3 billion fine with additional oversight measures put in place.

The details:

  • The amendment to amend the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act is helmed by Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and co-sponsored by Sens. Chuck Schumer, (D-N.Y.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).
  • Van Hollen had already successfully introduced an amendment that would thwart future deals with China to reduce penalties, crafted under the assumption the NDAA would beat the Trump administration's China deal to the fininsh line. It didn't.
  • Many lawmakers suspect ZTE of sabotaging equipment sold to U.S. companies to help China spy on the U.S.

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President Biden swiftly recommitted the U.S. to the Paris climate pact and the World Health Organization, but America's broader foreign policy is in a state of flux between the Trump and Biden eras.

Driving the news: One of the most striking moves from the Biden administration thus far was a show of continuity — concurring with the Trump administration's last-minute determination that China had committed "genocide" against Uyghur Muslims.

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Congress grants waiver for retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to lead Pentagon

Defense Secretary nominee Lloyd Austin. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Both chambers of Congress on Thursday voted to grant retired Gen. Lloyd Austin a waiver to lead the Pentagon, clearing the path to confirmation for President Biden's nominee for defense secretary.

Why it matters: Austin's nomination received pushback from some lawmakers, including Democrats, who cited a law that requires officers be out of the military for at least seven years before taking the job — a statute intended to reinforce the tradition of civilian control of the Pentagon.