Politics & Government

House approves financial sanctions on North Korea in bill introduced by Andy Barr

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington
U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington palcala@herald-leader.com

A bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, that will prohibit U.S. banks from engaging in significant financial transactions with North Korea passed through the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

“The legislation passed by the House today would hold North Korea accountable by imposing the most far-reaching sanctions ever directed at Pyongyang, putting tremendous economic pressure on the Kim Jong-Un regime and its foreign enablers,” Barr said. “In doing so, we can deny North Korea the financing it needs to fund its nuclear and missile programs.”

Along with prohibiting U.S. banks from participating in financial transactions with North Korea, the bill prohibits foreign banks that have payable-through accounts held in the U.S. from making financial deals with North Korea.

Payable-through accounts are a specialized account that foreign banks use to give their customers access to the U.S. banking system.

If a bank were to violate the law, it would be fined and could face potential criminal charges.

The bill also requires that the government oppose any loan by international financial institutions that would be awarded to countries that do not sanction North Korea.

The bill passed the House of Representatives by a 415-2 margin. One of Barr’s fellow members of the Kentucky delegation, U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Lewis County, was one of the two representatives who voted against the bill.

“Non-military sanctions have largely proven to be ineffective,” Massie said. “Worse yet, they create tensions with our natural allies, move us closer to war, impose hardships on American companies doing business abroad, and punish civilians in the targeted country who would otherwise be supportive of the U.S.”

The bill has been sent to the Senate.

Daniel Desrochers: 502-875-3793, @drdesrochers, @BGPolitics