Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives today passed Rep. Ted Yoho’s (R-FL) H.R. 5484, the State Sponsors of Terrorism Review Enhancement Act, which strengthens congressional oversight and extends the time a designated country must refrain from sponsoring terrorism – from six months to 24 months – before the president can remove it from the official list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

On the House floor prior to the vote, Chairman Royce delivered the following remarks (as prepared for delivery):

“I want to thank the gentleman from Florida, Mr. Yoho, for his leadership in authoring this critical legislation.

The designation of a foreign government as a ‘State Sponsor of Terrorism’ is one of our government’s most powerful statements.

In addition to imposing sanctions and other restrictions, the designation itself earns a state pariah status internationally.  That’s deserved – after all, these are countries whose governments back the killing of innocents as a matter of policy.

To be added to list, the Secretary of State “must determine that the government of such country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”

The designation then triggers unilateral sanctions by the United States. These sanctions include a ban on weapons exports and sales, limits on financing and economic assistance, and restrictions on exports that can be used by that country to enhance its military capability or its ability to support terrorism.  These are important and powerful tools.

Yet under current law, to de-list a state-sponsor of terrorism, the administration only needs to certify that the country has refrained from supporting terrorism for a mere six months.

Administrations from both parties have abused this process. In 2008, North Korea’s designation was rescinded following commitments it made to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

North Korea was delisted, prematurely, but kept its nuclear program – as evidenced by its fifth nuclear test last week.

Likewise, Cuba continues to harbor terrorists, both foreign and domestic, meddle in Venezuela, and continues its support for Iran’s designs on Latin America.  Just last month, Cuba hosted the Iranian Foreign Minister as Tehran seeks to expand its presence in the Hemisphere.

This legislation is an important check against Administration overreach, increasing the period of time a country must refrain from supporting terrorism – from 6 months to 2 years – before it is eligible for being de-listed.

The bill also increases the period of time that Congress has to review any such proposed action by the President, from 45 days to 90 days.  So the bill strengthens congressional oversight of this process.”