House Bill Aims to Halt Trade with Syria, Sudan: McCollum, Schumer Cite Terrorist Ties

Article excerpt

Two congressmen yesterday introduced a bipartisan bill designed to shut down trade with Sudan and Syria, blocking Clinton administration efforts to bypass anti-terrorist legislation passed last year.

"The only way we are going to eliminate the governmental support terrorist organizations desperately need is to take a firm stance against economic relationships with these countries," Rep. Bill McCollum, Florida Republican, said at a news conference.

The bill, the Prohibition on Financial Transactions With Countries Supporting Terrorism Act of 1997, is co-sponsored by Rep. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat.

In April, around the first anniversary of the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, a massive anti-terrorism bill was hurried into law.

Administration officials later decided that language in the law might prohibit too broad a variety of business transactions. The Treasury Department issued regulations in August that allowed continuing trade with Syria and Sudan.

The State Department classifies seven nations - Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan - as sponsors of terrorism. The new bill would mainly affect Syria, because the United States does little trade with Sudan, which is desperately poor, and has economic embargoes on the other five nations.

Mr. McCollum said the bill would strip "the executive branch of the authority to issue regulations exempting transactions from the prohibition. …