Two senators from across the aisle have introduced a bill which would turn up the heat on North Korea and impose sweeping sanctions against the country. The legislators reportedly formed the bill with help from the parents of deceased American college student Otto Warmbier.
The Warmbier’s first made mainstream media headlines after it was learned that their son had been imprisoned in North Korea while he was visiting the country. There, Otto was reportedly tortured and at one point was comatose. Their son was returned to the United States under the leadership of President Trump but soon passed away due to injuries he suffered during the North Korean imprisonment.
Republican Senator Pat Toomey and Democrat Chris Van Hollen offered the “Otto Warmbier Banking Restrictions Involving North Korea (BRINK) Act” days after a summit between Republican President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was abruptly cut off after they failed to reach a deal for the reclusive communist nation to give up its nuclear weapons.
In a statement, Fred and Cindy Warmbier thanked van Hollen and Toomey, and said they believed the legislation would provide useful tools to help change North Korea.
“We continue to support the bill and appreciate them honoring our son’s memory,” the Warmbiers said.
According to the report, the new sanctions would block any foreign banks that do business with North Korea from doing business in the United States. This is the second time the bill has been introduced in the last session of Congress. Reuters reports the bill “unanimously passed the Senate Banking Committee last year but did not advance further.”
ABC News reports another congressional bill which would have officially placed blame on North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un for the death of Otto Warmbrier will no longer be introduced to the legislative body.
The bill was being led by new Democrat Congressman Tom Malinowski, who tweeted: “I’ll be introducing a bipartisan resolution next week affirming that Congress holds Kim Jong Un responsible for the death of Otto Warmbier.”
He later decided to pull the bill after speaking with the Warmbier parents.
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“The family ultimately decided they did not want the resolution to go forward, and we are respecting their wishes,” ABC News reports Malinowski spokeswoman Amanda Osborne said.
The bill was initially introduced as a reaction to a comment from President Trump, who said Kim Jong-Un may not have known about Otto Warmbier and was not responsible in his death.
From ABC News:
Malinowski’s intent to draft the resolution came after President Donald Trump met with Kim at a summit in Vietnam last week. During a press conference after the summit ended, Trump said he believed Kim’s denial of complicity in the death of Warmbier, who was imprisoned for about 17 months before he was released while in a vegetative state. Upon his return to the United States, Warmbier was taken off life support.
“I really believe something very bad happened to [Warmbier], and I don’t think that the top leadership knew about it,” Trump said Feb. 28. “I did speak about it, and I don’t believe that [Kim] would’ve allowed that to happen. [It] just wasn’t to his advantage to allow that to happen. Those prisons are rough. They’re rough places, and bad things happened.
“He tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word.”