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COLUMN: Bipartisan Support for Sanctions Sends Message of American Strength

August 7, 2017
Weekly Column and Op-Ed

Last Wednesday, President Trump signed bipartisan legislation into law that Congress had passed overwhelmingly to sanction hostile regimes in North Korea, Russia, and Iran. I joined my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the House on a vote of 419 to 3 to pass the Russia, Iran, and North Korea Sanctions Act. After House passage, the Senate voted 98 to 2 to send the bill to the President’s desk. The unity in Congress’ action shows how seriously we are taking adversaries who work to oppose American interests and those of our allies around the globe.

Why are sanctions important to our national security, and how do they apply to strategic threats posed by North Korea, Russia, and Iran? Sanctions provide leverage for the U.S. against the leaders of these hostile regimes. The legislation signed by the President also gives Congress oversight to ensure that sanctions are implemented.

North Korea continues to conduct test launches for inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in addition to nuclear tests. The tyrannical communist regime of Kim Jong Un is aiming to produce nuclear-tipped missiles capable of hitting American allies in East Asia or the mainland U.S. Since February, North Korea has conducted 17 missile tests and shows no signs of slowing their efforts. A recent U.S. assessment concluded that North Korea may develop an atomic ICBM as early as next year. New U.S. sanctions cut off the Kim Jong Un regime’s access to hard cash and crack down on its oil and shipping sectors.

Russia has acted to destabilize eastern Ukraine and has conducted a bombing campaign on behalf of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who been responsible for the hundreds of thousands of deaths of his own people while creating millions of refugees. Russia has conducted cyber-attacks against the U.S. and democracies in Europe. The sanctions legislation on Russian arms sales and the exportation of oil and gas hits Vladimir Putin and his cronies where it hurts most—the pocketbook.

In the aftermath of President Obama’s disastrous nuclear deal with Iran, the regime of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was given access to billions of dollars in sanctions relief. Iran has continued to fund terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, support the Assad regime in Syria, and destabilize Yemen through supporting the ongoing civil war. Our sanctions legislation targets anyone who contributes to the Iranian regime’s own ballistic missile program as well as Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, which supports recruitment and training of terrorists.

In the face of alarming acts by North Korea, Russia, and Iran, the U.S. government has acted to increase pressure on countries that would do us or our allies harm. Our targets are not the people living under these hostile regimes; but their leaders who are on notice that there is a heavy price to pay for threatening the security of the American people.