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Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty Images

A bipartisan group of senators will introduce a bill today that could reinstate crippling sanctions against Chinese phone maker ZTE, which President Trump lifted in May and replaced with a hefty fine, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The Commerce Department's original punishments against ZTE — a company that the Pentagon views as a national security threat as well as a repeat violator of U.S. sanctions — included a seven-year ban on American firms that sell it parts. The new bill would mandatorily reimpose those punishments if ZTE violates any of the probationary conditions in the deal it struck with the Trump administration, such as illegally exporting phones to Iran or North Korea.

  • Sanctions forced ZTE to shut down after twice being caught lying to the U.S. government about violating export controls. The bill would ensure that those harsh punishments continue to pose a threat if ZTE does not remain in close compliance.
  • "With China’s communist government posing the greatest, long-term threat to the United States, we must continue to confront ZTE’s real risks to our economy and national security," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement provided to Axios. "While it was a mistake to reach a 'deal' with ZTE in the first place, this bill will ensure ZTE is finally put out of business if it does not hold up its end of the bargain."
  • Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who will be introducing the bill alongside Rubio, also provided a statement: "ZTE has repeatedly misled federal investigators and violated U.S. laws, and their behavior represents a fundamental threat to our national security. At the bare minimum, Congress must act to ensure that this giant telecommunications company is not able to violate the current agreement with the Department of Commerce or our laws. This bipartisan legislation will hold ZTE’s feet to the fire and should be considered without delay.”
  • Also co-sponsoring the bill are Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mark Warner (D-Va.), James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Go deeper: How Trump resurrected ZTE.

Go deeper

NRA files for bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for voluntary bankruptcy as part of a restructuring plan.

Driving the news: The gun rights group said it would reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment." Last year, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.

40 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden: "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution

Joe Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden promised to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine manufacturing, as he outlined a five-point plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first months of his presidency.

Why it matters: With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, Biden is trying to establish how he’ll approach the pandemic differently than President Trump.

A new Washington

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Image

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday that the city should expect a "new normal" for security — even after President-elect Biden's inauguration.

The state of play: Inaugurations are usually a point of celebration in D.C., but over 20,000 troops are now patrolling Washington streets in an unprecedented preparation for Biden's swearing-in on Jan. 20.