The House on Friday easily cleared new sanctions on North Korea following a slate of recent provocative moves by that country that have sparked global worries.
In a 408–2 vote, lawmakers approved legislation that requires the Obama administration to sanction anyone involved with North Korea’s nuclear program, luxury goods, money laundering and human rights abuses.
The measure also authorizes $10 million annually over the course of five years for expanding North Koreans’ access to media and providing humanitarian assistance to refugees.
“Like many members of Congress, the administration is deeply concerned about North Korea’s recent action and the serious setback that this test represents,” Obama spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters aboard Air Force One. “We’re philosophically and intellectually in the same place on this. This will not be a bill that we oppose."
Libertarian Reps. Justin AmashJustin AmashTrump muddies GOP message on protecting the Constitution Libertarian looks for anti-Trump bump The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Mich.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) were the only lawmakers to vote against the measure.
Lawmakers said the legislation was necessary to retaliate against North Korea amid concerns that the international community isn’t moving quickly enough. Approval of the new sanctions came less than a week after Pyongyang launched a long-range rocket, which many believed was an illegal test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
North Korea claimed that it only launched a satellite.
North Korea also conducted its fourth nuclear weapons test last month, claiming to have succesfully detonated a hydrogen bomb. U.S. officials have cast skepticism on that claim, however.
”This fourth nuclear weapons test and this latest ICBM test over the weekend ... has focused the attention of the members of the Senate and the House on the fact that the administration's policy of strategic patience is not working and that we have to take concerted action,” said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.).
"It is a goal to get North Korea to the table, but we must be serious about applying the sanctions,” Royce added.
The Senate overwhelmingly passed the legislation by a vote of 96–0 earlier this week. The House had previously passed another version of the North Korea sanctions measure last month but opted to clear the Senate amendments that included the authorized funds for media access and humanitarian aid.
Kristina Wong contributed.
This story was updated at 3:33 p.m.