Senate backs new North Korea sanctions
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The Senate unanimously approved new sanctions on North Korea Wednesday in a 96-0 vote that follows what Pyongyang says was a successful test of a hydrogen bomb.

Senators suggested the legislation is a long-needed step amid frustration that the United Nations Security Council is moving too slowly to pass new sanctions targeting North Korea’s economy.

Sen. Bob CorkerBob CorkerThe Hill's 12:30 Report Iran nuclear deal still under threat — US must keep its end of the bargain Senate heads to new healthcare vote with no clear plan MORE (R-Tenn.), who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, argued the bill was a strong piece of legislation that would make a difference with North Korea.

Sen. Robert MenendezRobert MenendezBipartisan group, Netflix actress back bill for American Latino Museum The Mideast-focused Senate letter we need to see Taiwan deserves to participate in United Nations MORE (D-N.J.), who helped spearhead the sanctions legislation, urged his colleagues to pass the bill unanimously, saying it would “create a ripple effect, not only here but across the world.”

The legislation would require the Obama administration 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.

Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulThe Hill's 12:30 Report Senate heads to new healthcare vote with no clear plan Overnight Healthcare: CBO predicts 22M would lose coverage under Senate ObamaCare replacement MORE (R-Ky.), who suspended his presidential campaign earlier this month, slammed the legislation ahead of the vote because it included national security waivers, which would allow the president to waive the North Korea sanctions.

“For decades now Congress has granted the president national security waivers,” he said. “Then Congress complains because the president is doing an overreaching, and yet we give him the very power.”

Paul hoped to attach an amendment that would remove the waivers but was blocked by Sen. Cory GardnerCory GardnerInterior recommends preserving Colorado site's monument status Overnight Energy: Exxon sues feds over M fine | Deputy Interior pick advances | Oil concerns hold up Russia sanctions push Senate advances controversial Trump Interior nominee MORE (R-Colo.), who said senators had included provisions in the legislation to block the president from broadly using the waivers.

Sens. David Perdue (R-Ga.) also urged his colleagues to support an amendment that would require a report from Obama on Iran’s potential ties to North Korea’s nuclear program, but it was not included in the bill.

Because the Senate's version of the sanctions legislation expands upon House legislation, the House will need to pass the Senate bill or negotiate a new bill with the Senate.

Sen. Ben CardinBen CardinOil concerns hold up Russia sanctions push Compounds’ fate raised after Trump-Putin talk Administration briefs Senate on progress against ISIS MORE (D-Md.) suggested Wednesday that it was unclear if a House-Senate conference committee would be needed.

“Our hope is that we don’t need a conference,” he told The Hill. “We hope we can do this quite quickly.”

Menendez added, separately, that he hopes the House will pass the legislation by consent, allowing lawmakers to skip a conference and get the bill to Obama’s desk faster.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersParliamentarian deals setback to GOP repeal bill OPINION | Hey Dems, Russia won't define 2018, so why not fix your party's problems instead? OPINION | They told us to abandon ObamaCare — then came the resistance MORE (I-Vt.), who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, missed the vote, which came a day after he won the New Hampshire primary. He said in a statement that he supports the sanctions, calling them “absolutely essential” to ending North Korea’s nuclear program.

Both of the Senate's GOP presidential candidates — Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzEx-CBO directors defend against GOP attacks on ObamaCare analysis Cruz: GOP will 'look like fools' if ObamaCare isn’t repealed The GOP Wonder Women who saved healthcare for 22 million MORE (Texas) and Marco RubioMarco RubioBush ethics lawyer: Congress must tell Trump not to fire Mueller The private alternative to the National Flood Insurance Program  Cruz offers bill to weaken labor board's power MORE (Fla.) — backed the legislation, marking their first roll call votes since Jan. 20.

Cruz — who slammed the president’s policy in a letter Wednesday — told reporters ahead of the vote that under the Obama administration “the enemies of America have gotten more and more aggressive and we need a commander in chief who can keep this country safe.”