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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

Reaffirming American Strength Through Sanctions

August 7, 2017
Weekly Columns
In recent years, the geopolitical landscape has dramatically shifted, with past threats reemerging. After nearly a decade shying away from the world stage, hostile regimes feel emboldened and are threatening our safety and way of life. As congressional investigations continue to look into the actions of bad actors around the world, Congress must take action to protect the safety and security of the American people.
 
In order to maintain stability and reassure our allies around the world, it is important to counter those who wish to undermine the United States and the values of democracy. That’s why the House recently passed a sweeping package of new and updated sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea: H.R. 3364, the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. 
 
Although the investigation is ongoing, there is strong evidence that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election. In addition to penetrating our cyberspace, Russia has been a supplier and supporter for the Assad regime in Syria and a disruptor of peace and stability in Europe. As a response to its cyber attacks and its military aid to Syria, our legislation will impose strict and strong sanctions against Russia, with authorized funding of $500 million over the next two years to combat Russian aggression on all fronts. It will target any persons or entities that have assisted with the cyber breach of our election system with economic sanctions, as well as keep the current executive sanctions that are already in place. 
 
Furthermore, there are measures included to prohibit American companies from investing in energy projects that have significant Russian ownership. It also restricts participation of American companies from participating in some international projects. 
 
In the Middle East, Iran has consistently posed a serious threat to our national security, and to stability in the surrounding areas. It is widely known that Iran has been a supporter and sponsor of terrorist activity, as well as maintaining a robust ballistic missile program. Sanctions on Iran are nothing new, but the country has violated many of those through financial and weapons support of terrorism. This sanctions package would expand existing sanctions and will weaken Iran’s capability of financing and creating a weapons and missile program. 
 
Lastly, our legislation broadens imposed economic and human rights sanctions on North Korea. Since February, the Kim Jong-un regime has tested 18 missiles, including two intercontinental ballistic missiles. This nation is a growing threat, and cannot be ignored. The sanctions will carefully examine banks and trade organizations that have done any business with North Korea, and ensure that those who have supplied missile elements to them are punished. 
 
Passed with overwhelmingly bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, H.R. 3364 also restricts the President’s ability to lift or weaken sanctions against Russia without consulting Congress. The threats facing the world only grow stronger without significant pressure from America. Our national security must be our fundamental priority. Now that it is law and signed by the President, this is a significant first step to holding violators accountable and reaffirming the strength of the United States on the global stage.