The Administration opposes House passage of H.R. 748. The bill would deny the
Executive branch the discretion to determine, on a case-by-case basis, the most
appropriate and effective sanctions to impose against governments that support
H.R. 748 would seriously infringe on the President's ability to conduct foreign
policy. It would seriously impede the Executive branch's ability to use
sanctions to respond quickly and flexibly to unforeseeable developments and
international events. The loss of flexibility to tailor sanctions to unique
circumstances and situations would undermine the usefulness of sanctions as a
U.S. foreign policy tool needed to defend U.S. national security and economic
interests. No list can adequately address the circumstances that could arise
in U.S. relations with terrorist regimes.
Current sanctions programs reflect foreign policies crafted over extended
periods in response to unique developments in each target country. H.R. 748
would make it impossible for the Administration to respond to changing foreign
policy conditions. The bill would interfere with the United States' ability to
implement mandatory United Nations Security Council Resolutions that impose
sanctions. The ramifications of this bill have not been adequately considered,
particularly with respect to its impact on other provisions of law, on binding
international obligations, and on the overall interests of the United States.
For example, H.R. 748 would eliminate mandated exceptions to sanctions as
contained in existing laws, including the Cuban Democracy Act, the Cuban
Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, the Trading with the Enemy Act, and the
International Emergency Economic Powers Act. These Acts authorize or exempt,
when appropriate, various financial transactions from sanctions. In addition,
H.R. 748 could undermine the Administration's ability to serve as an effective
intermediary in the Middle East peace process, and would hinder efforts to gain
Syria's cooperation on specific terrorism-related problems.
The Administration currently has sufficient statutory authority to administer
an effective sanctions program against terrorist countries. Comprehensive
embargoes are already being applied to Cuba, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and
Libya, and further measures against Sudan pursuant to existing statutory
authorities are being considered at this time.