Senate locks down North Korea sanctions vote
© Getty Images

The Senate will vote next week on legislation to crack down on North Korea after the country said it tested a hydrogen bomb. 

 
"[It's a] very important piece of legislation that I'm pleased to say the whole Senate thinks ought to be taken up and voted on and passed, and it will be an important change in our policy toward this rogue regime," the Republican leader said after setting up the vote. 
 
 
The committee approved the legislation by voice vote last month after lawmakers worked to combine legislation from Sens. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezCongress must provide flexible funding for owners of repeatedly flooded properties Senate ethics panel resumes Menendez probe after judge declares mistrial Judge declares mistrial in Menendez bribery case MORE (D-N.J.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDHS chief takes heat over Trump furor Overnight Defense: GOP chair blames Dems for defense budget holdup | FDA, Pentagon to speed approval of battlefield drugs | Mattis calls North Korea situation 'sobering' Bipartisan group to introduce DACA bill in House MORE (R-S.C.) with a proposal from Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerDurbin: Senators to release immigration bill Wednesday GOP senators eager for Romney to join them Gardner: Bipartisan DACA solution possible despite Trump's 's---hole countries' comment MORE (R-Colo.). 
 
The Senate legislation goes further than a House bill that passed in January
 
Under the Senate proposal, the Obama administration is required to sanction anyone involved with North Korea's nuclear weapons program, arms-related materials, luxury goods, human rights abuses, activities that negatively impact cybersecurity and the use of coal or metals in any of the activities.

Penalties would include freezing assets under U.S. jurisdiction, banning individuals from traveling to the United States or blocking government contracts.

McConnell's move will also help the legislation avoid any potential landmines that could pop up if a senator tried to offer a controversial amendment—similar to what happened when the Senate debated legislation allowing Congress to review the Iran nuclear deal. 

Cardin voiced concern that so-called "poison pill" amendments could get attached to the otherwise uncontroversial proposal. 

"The question is what happens on the floor of the Senate," he told The Hill last week. "I think Senator Corker and I can defend the bill [on North Korea] but if it gets into other areas, you never know."