August 10, 2017

North Korea poses one of the greatest threats to international security. That’s why the response from the Trump Administration is so dangerous. Threatening nuclear war, as the President and some in his circle have done, dramatically increases the likelihood of miscalculation, sows fear and confusion among our partners and allies, and damages our credibility. Hot rhetoric from a U.S. President is exactly what the North Korean leader wants – it elevates his stature on the world stage. 

We need to work quickly to ramp up pressure on the North Korean regime through tough economic sanctions that drive North Korea to the nuclear negotiating table. The latest round of UN sanctions on North Korea are an important step forward, but it's critical that we distinguish between what’s written in a UN resolution and what actually gets enforced. Time and time again we've seen the failure of China and some other nations to enforce these UN sanctions on their banks and businesses. That failure has allowed the North Korean economy to grow and escape the pressure needed to bring them to the negotiating table for meaningful talks. 

The Congress recently passed one round of sanctions against North Korea. But we must do more to address the loopholes in our current sanctions regime. That’s why I’ve introduced another round of sanctions with Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Our bipartisan bill – the BRINK Act – is modeled after the successful Iran sanctions laws that brought Iran to the negotiating table to end its nuclear weapons program. It would ratchet up the enforcement of sanctions, turning off the spigot of money being funneled into North Korea from some in the international community, including Chinese banks. It gives international banks and businesses only two options: stop funding Kim Jong Un’s dangerous behavior or get cut off from the U.S. financial system.

I believe these additional measures, as a part of a broader financial pressure campaign and paired with rigorous diplomacy, are our best chance of peacefully resolving the North Korean nuclear threat. That is why I’m urging Congress to pass additional sanctions – and calling on the President to follow the advice of Teddy Roosevelt: speak softly, and carry a big stick.

Chris Van Hollen

U.S. Senator


Finding Cures for Childhood Cancer

No childhood should be interrupted by a struggle for survival, but cancer tragically puts far too many kids in Maryland and across the country in a battle for their lives. That’s why earlier this year, I introduced a bipartisan bill to support the development of innovative and promising cancer drugs for children. And I’m pleased to announce that this legislation has passed both the House and Senate and is headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law. The Research to Accelerate Cures and Equity (RACE) for Children Act will modernize drug development regulations to help build on the progress being made at institutions like the National Institutes of Health. This is an important step to increase treatment options for kids with cancer. But our job won’t be done until we save every child – and their families – from the misery of this horrific disease.


Protecting Funding for Fighting Crime in Baltimore

Cities like Baltimore rely on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for a wide range of support to combat violent crime, and I’m working hard on the Senate Appropriations Committee to ensure our state gets the funding it needs on this critical issue. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently threatened to withhold funding for Baltimore City police if the city doesn’t enforce the Trump Administration’s immigration enforcement orders that Maryland’s Attorney General, Brian Frosh, says could be unconstitutional. This is a gross abuse of power on the part of Attorney General Sessions, and I’ve joined with Baltimore’s Congressional delegation to strongly oppose it. Making the threat even more outrageous, it appears that Sessions overlooked the important fact that the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services – not the Baltimore City Police Department – technically enforces immigration orders. Therefore, Sessions is demanding that Baltimore Police Chief Kevin Davis and the Baltimore City Police take actions that are outside of their control.

Rather than threatening Baltimore and other cities, the Justice Department should be doing what it can to support efforts to reduce violent crime. As we await a response from the DOJ, we remain committed to helping Baltimore City secure needed resources in its effort to fight violent crime and strengthen community policing.