Sherrod Brown: Trump Should Use "Otto Warmbier" Sanctions As Leverage With North Korea

May 29, 2018

Senator Sherrod Brown told WVXU today he hopes President Trump's on-again, off-again summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un takes place next month.

Brown, a Democrat running for re-election this year, says he hopes his bill to levy more sanctions on North Korea if they do not cooperate will be part of the leverage Trump can use if he sits down with the North Korean leader next month in Singapore.

"I've asked the White House to pass my Korean sanctions bill,'' Brown told WVXU. "It's the Otto Warmbier bill, named after the young man from Cincinnati who was murdered by the North Korean government. I think those sanctions should give the president leverage."

Among the sanctions in the bill was a provision that would put restrictions on nations doing business with North Korea. Nations could do business with North Korea or the U.S., but not both.

Brown said he doesn't know why Trump agreed to the meeting with Kim Jong Un, then canceled it, and now appears to be receptive to holding the meeting.

"I don't know if his on-again, off-again is part of a negotiating strategy or if it is one advisor, (National Security Advisor) John Bolton, who wants to be more aggressive to the point of perhaps going to war, or another advisor who is telling the president to be more cautious,'' Brown said.

Brown made his comments to WVXU this morning after a press conference underneath the west end of the Western Hills Viaduct. He was joined at the crumbling 86-year-old bridge by political, labor and business leaders to tout his Bridge Investment Act. Brown says it calls for significant investments in bridge repair projects, including the Viaduct.

The Viaduct is estimated to cost about $300 million to repair.

Brown's bill does not contain money for the repair, but he is hoping that Congress will appropriate at least $75 billion for bridge and infrastructure repair.

Of the more than 27,000 bridges in Ohio, approximately 1,650 are classified as "structurally deficient" and 4,700 are classified as "functionally obsolete."

As for the Western Hills Viaduct, Brown said it is 86 years old and hasn't had a major rehab since Jimmy Carter was president in the late 1970s.

"It's not imminent that it's dangerous, but making stop-gap repairs doesn't fix the long-term problem,'' Brown said.