December 18, 2019

Van Hollen, Toomey, Brown, Portman Applaud North Korea Sanctions in Final NDAA Package

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Van Hollen (D-Md.), Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) celebrated the inclusion of the Otto Warmbier North Korea Nuclear Sanctions and Enforcement Act in the final FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). They were joined at the event by Fred and Cindy Warmbier, whose son Otto died after being imprisoned in North Korea for over a year and who the bill is named for. For the full video of the event, click here.


The legislation, which is now at the President’s desk for signature, will offer foreign banks and firms a stark choice: continue business with North Korea or maintain access to the U.S. financial system. It does this by imposing mandatory sanctions on the foreign banks and companies that facilitate illicit financial transactions for North Korea.


“I’m proud to say that Congress has taken a stand when it comes to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and the threat that it poses to our country and the world. This legislation will out real teeth in the sanctions regime in order to achieve our goal of a negotiated agreement to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula,” said Senator Van Hollen. “I want to thank Senators Toomey, Brown, and Portman, as well as the Warmbier family, for working with us to get this done.”


“This was a fight of over two years to get to this point. It’s all about holding the appalling regime in North Korea accountable for the nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that they have been developing that are a real threat to Americans and to American allies. And to hold this regime accountable for the horrendous and appalling human rights violations – especially what happened to Otto Warmbier. I appreciate the tremendous support from Senator Van Hollen, and our partnership with Senators Portman and Brown, to get this measure across the finish line on behalf of the Warmbier family,” said Senator Toomey.


“It’s important we send a clear signal that the U.S. is serious about maintaining economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program, and to stop its continuing human rights abuses like those that took the life of Otto Warmbier,” said Senator Brown. “I thank Chairman Crapo, and Senators Toomey, Van Hollen and Portman for their leadership on this issue.” 


“This bipartisan sanctions legislation will help hold North Korea accountable for their actions and human rights abuses against Cincinnati-native Otto Warmbier as well as others they’ve illegally held captive. I’m glad these sanctions were included in the NDAA conference report and we must continue to work together to confront the threat that North Korea poses. Fred and Cindy Warmbier and their family have been through so much. I’m proud to be their friend and support their efforts to hold North Korea accountable and ensure that Otto is never forgotten,” said Senator Portman.