Schiff-Wilson Bill Restricting Tourist Travel to North Korea Will Move Forward in House
Today, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) announced that they had received a commitment from House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) to mark up their bipartisan North Korea Travel Control Act, which would require the Treasury Department to issue regulations requiring a license for travel to, from, and within North Korea by American citizens, and ban tourist travel by Americans. This new action in the House comes after Otto Warmbier, a college student who was imprisoned by North Korea, tragically passed away days after being returned to his family after a period of captivity. The Schiff-Wilson bill is expected to be considered in Committee in the coming weeks.
“The tragic murder of Otto Warmbier at the hands of the North Korean government has made it clear that it is past time that we restrict tourist travel to communist, totalitarian North Korea,” said Rep. Wilson. “I am grateful that Chairman Ed Royce has committed to marking up this important legislation soon, and look forward to having it debated in the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Every penny that goes to the brutal regime is used in the subjugation of its own people and unlawful detention of American citizens. By cutting off this source of income we can protect American families and deny the regime hard currency.”
“Time and time again, the North Korean regime has shown that it will treat Americans who visit their nation as hostages to extract concessions from the United States, and put their lives in danger. The tragic death of Otto Warmbier, which is tantamount to the murder of a U.S. citizen by North Korea, brings further into focus the need to go beyond simply warning Americans not to visit this pariah state,” said Rep. Schiff. “I’m pleased that the Foreign Affairs Committee is moving expeditiously to take up our bill, which would place meaningful and effective limits on the travel of Americans to this pariah state, and ban tourist travel entirely.”
Late last month, Schiff and Wilson introduced the bipartisan North Korea Travel Control Act. At least seventeen Americans have been detained in the past ten years, despite the State Department strongly warning U.S. citizens against traveling to the DPRK. Currently, at least three Americans remain imprisoned. With heightened tensions between the United States and North Korea, the danger that additional Americans will be detained for political reasons has increased. In addition to security concerns, Western visitors bring with them much needed foreign currency, especially valued in a country facing extensive international sanctions for its illegal nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.