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Honorable Mark Sanford

Representing the 1st District of South Carolina

Vote Notes - H.R. 3364, Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act

Jul 25, 2017
Blog Post

The countries of North Korea, Iran, and Russia have become a greater threat to the security of our country of late, and consequently, Congress has reacted. Today, we passed H.R. 3364, Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, a bill that would increase penalties against these increasingly dangerous nations. I voted in favor of the bill...which passed 419 to 3.


As a rule, I don’t like sanctions. Often, they hurt regular people just trying to work their way through life - and a bad government imposed on them through no fault of their own, while the elites of those countries are largely unaffected. But when actions become so flagrant that something must be done, I see these economically blunt tools as a last resort. Such is the case here.


For years, North Korea was considered little more than a hermit nation and was in many respects written off. But, as we have seen over the past few years, it is becoming a threat to the United States, as it continues developing its nuclear arsenal and is getting dangerously close to developing long range missiles capability. Just today, Kim Jong-un promised a nuclear strike, if it is threatened by the United States. Today’s bill would further restrict funding from reaching North Korea by restricting its supporters’ access to US financial institutions. North Korea is unpredictable and dangerous, and the magnitude of these sanctions accurately reflects this.


Iran was added to the state sponsor of terrorism list over 30 years ago and has not come off of it since. This is in large part because the country’s militant Revolutionary Guards Corps has provided direct support to the terrorist organizations since its creation in 1979. If this wasn’t bad enough, Iran has been developing a nuclear weapon program for years and recently pivoted to making ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear bomb to countries on other continents. Perhaps the biggest threat Iran poses is to their neighbor and our close ally, Israel. On the human rights front, Iran’s record has been atrocious. The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act would expand sanctions against Iran to counter its ballistic missile activity, weapons of mass destruction, and human rights abuses.


The bill hits Russia hard on a number of fronts too. First, the bill expands sanctions against the Russian Federation for starting a shadow war in eastern Ukraine. Additionally, it creates new penalties to combat hostile Russian cyber activities, attempts to influence foreign elections like the US’s, and cuts off foreign aid to nations that are assisting Russia in these activities. It also creates new sanctions in reaction to Russia propping up Syria’s Assad regime. While the bill does target the energy sector of Russia, something that is not inherently dangerous, it only prevents Americans from entering into energy transactions with people who are contributing to Russia’s involvement in Ukraine and investing directly in Russia for its energy pipelines.


Last, the bill gives Congress greater oversight authority if a future president tries to reduce existing sanctions. Two years ago, President Obama entered into the Iran Nuclear Deal, an agreement never ratified by Congress that was designed to lift Iranian sanctions. In order to make sure that another situation like this never happens in the future, particularly with Russia, the bill includes language that would require that any attempt to lift sanctions must first pass through Congress. Given that Congress grants the authority to the president to enact sanctions, it seems fair that Congress should have the final say as to whether they should be lifted. For all these reasons, I voted in favor of the bill.