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 CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSenate campaign fundraising reports roll in Congress should take the lead on reworking a successful Iran deal North Korea tensions ease ahead of Winter Olympics 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 (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.), 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 PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulNSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Fix what we’ve got and make Medicare right this year Despite amnesty, DACA bill favors American wage-earners 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 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.), 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 CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinCongress should take the lead on reworking a successful Iran deal 'Fix' the Iran deal, but don't move the goalposts North Korea tensions ease ahead of Winter Olympics 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 SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersMellman: On Political Authenticity (Part 2) Former Sanders campaign manager: Don't expect email list to be shared with DNC Adult film star: Trump and Stormy Daniels invited me to 'hang out' 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 CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWith religious liberty memo, Trump made America free to be faithful again Interstate compacts aren't the right way to fix occupational licensing laws Texas Dem: ‘I don’t know what to believe’ about what Trump wants for wall MORE (Texas) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Cybersecurity: Bipartisan bill aims to deter election interference | Russian hackers target Senate | House Intel panel subpoenas Bannon | DHS giving 'active defense' cyber tools to private sector Senators unveil bipartisan push to deter future election interference Puerto Rico's children need recovery funds 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.”