H.R. 5484, State Sponsors of Terrorism Review Enhancement Act

H.R. 5484

State Sponsors of Terrorism Review Enhancement Act

Rep. Ted Yoho

September 12, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
John Huston

Floor Situation

On­­­­ Monday, September 12, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 5484, the State Sponsors of Terrorism Review Enhancement Act, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 5484 was introduced on June 15, 2016, by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, which ordered the bill reported by unanimous consent on June 16, 2016.

Bill Summary

H.R. 5484 would reduce the President’s flexibility to remove a country’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism by:

  • Increasing the period of time the Congress would have to review any such proposed action from 45 days to 90 days,
  • Increasing the period of time a country must refrain from supporting terrorism before the President could remove such a designation from 6 months to 2 years, and
  • Requiring the President to notify the Congress when the Administration initiates a review of a country’s designation and, 20 days later, brief the Congress on the status of that review.


Iran, Sudan, and Syria are identified by the U.S. government as countries with governments that support acts of international terrorism. On April 14, 2015, the President announced his intention to rescind the terrorism designation from the government of Cuba, a decision that was fulfilled by the Secretary of State on May 29, 2015. Ongoing multilateral negotiations with Iran over its nuclear intentions increase attention to Iran’s designation as a state sponsor. Meanwhile, many in Congress have an interest in redesignating the government of North Korea since its delisting in 2008. While it is the President’s authority to designate, and remove from designation, terrorist states, Congress has some legislative authority to weigh in as the reviews proceed and can block certain list recessions if Congress enacts a joint resolution of disapproval.[1]

The Secretary of State is authorized to designate a foreign government for repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism, and to curtail aid or trade to that country as a result. Countries determined by the Secretary of State to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism are designated pursuant to three laws: section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act, section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act, and section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act. Taken together, the four main categories of sanctions resulting from designation under these authorities include restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.[2]

Over the years, the Secretary of State and President have exercised their authorities to remove five foreign governments, on six separate occasions, from the terrorism lists (Iraq, South Yemen, Libya, North Korea, and Cuba). The Secretary can remove countries from the list by certifying to Congress that (1) the government concerned has not provided any support for acts of international terrorism during the preceding 6-month period; and (2) the government concerned has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future. The President must also notify Congress 45 days before a recession takes effect.[3]

According to the bill sponsor, “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. Yet under current law, to de-list a state-sponsor, the administration only needs to certify that the country has refrained from supporting terrorism for a mere six months. We shouldn’t be giving terrorist regimes a clean bill of health in such a short time.”[4]

[1] See CRS Report, “State Sponsors of Acts of International Terrorism—Legislative Parameters: In Brief,” June 17, 2016.
[2] See U.S. State Department website, State Sponsors of Terrorism
[3] See CRS Report, “State Sponsors of Acts of International Terrorism—Legislative Parameters: In Brief,” June 17, 2016.
[4] See Foreign Affairs Committee, “Foreign Affairs Committee Approves Two Bills Addressing State Sponsors of Terror,” June 6, 2016.


The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that providing the notifications and briefings required by the bill would cost less than $500,000 over the 2017-2021 period; such spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact John Huston with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-5539.