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House to vote on North Korean sanctions next week

Posted at 8:19 PM, Apr 27, 2017

The House will vote on a bill to authorize new sanctions against North Korea, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced Thursday.

The chamber will take up the bill next week from House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce that targets North Korea's shipping and financial sectors with sanctions and attempts to crack down on the use of slave labor to fund Pyongyang.

The bill also calls for the Trump administration to determine within 90 days whether North Korea should be re-designated as a state sponsor of terrorism, something a White House official said Wednesday the Trump administration is now considering.

The planned vote comes amid escalating tensions between North Korea and the US. As Pyongyang has escalated its rhetoric and hinted at a another nuclear test, Trump administration officials have warmed the President is willing to take military action to stop the North from obtaining a long-range missile that could strike US soil.

After Wednesday's all-House briefing from senior Trump administration officials on North Korea, Royce told reporters that the measure would be taken up quickly as a way to "choke off some of the hard currency that this regime uses for its nuclear program."

Royce's bill has the support of New York Rep. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs panel. The measure passed the committee unanimously last month.

The measure is the first action Congress is taking on the heels of the all-House and all-Senate briefings, as the Trump administration weighs steps to deter North Korea's nuclear and missile testing.

Congress also passed a bill in 2016 approving sanctions against North Korea that President Barack Obama signed into law.