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

Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown speaks to reporters outside the Western Hills Viaduct Tuesday.
Howard Wilkinson
Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown speaks to reporters outside the Western Hills Viaduct Tuesday.

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.

Copyright 2021 91.7 WVXU. To see more, visit .

Howard Wilkinson joined the WVXU News Team after 30 years of covering local and state politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio governor’s race since 1974 as well as 12 presidential nominating conventions. His streak continued by covering both the 2012 Republican and Democratic conventions for 91.7 WVXU. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots; the Lucasville Prison riot in 1993; the Air Canada plane crash at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983; and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. The Cincinnati Reds are his passion. "I've been listening to WVXU and public radio for many years, and I couldn't be more pleased at the opportunity to be part of it,” he says.