The House Foreign Affairs Committee has passed a bill to toughen sanctions against North Korea and restrict its access to hard currency.
Both Republicans and Democrats backed the move on Thursday, saying they supported stronger action to combat Pyongyang's development of nuclear weapons and serious human rights abuses.
The bill would empower President Barack Obama to target foreign banks that facilitate the North Korean government's proliferation of weapons technology, arms trafficking, "kleptocracy" and imports of luxury goods by barring them from the U.S. financial system.
The committee's Republican chairman, Rep. Ed Royce of California, likened the bill to sanctions the U.S. imposed against a Macau-based bank in 2005 but later lifted to facilitate nuclear talks with North Korea.
The prospects for passage of the legislation remain uncertain.