July 23, 2015
Washington, D.C.—Today, the Senate Appropriation Committee voted to approve three amendments that would eliminate key elements of the failed U.S. embargo on Cuba. These measures would also greatly facilitate travel to the country, and allow banks and other U.S. businesses to finance agricultural exports there.
The approval of the amendments offered by Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Jon Tester (D-MT), and John Boozman (R-AK) occurred during a mark-up of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2016.
“Today, Senate Republicans and Democrats worked together to take important steps to align U.S. policy on Cuba with the expressed view of the American people. The big news here is that Republicans in Congress are increasingly taking the lead on ending the trade embargo on Cuba, matching what we’re seeing in the polls.” said Marc Hanson, Senior Associate for Cuba at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).
The Committee’s vote is supported by recent public opinion surveys, showing that the vast majority of Americans support normalizing relations with Cuba. A CBS News poll found that 81 percent of the American people support ending the travel ban (including 71 percent of Republicans), and according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center, conservative Republicans are the fastest-growing group of Americans who support opening U.S. trade with Cuba.
Background on the Amendments:
Moran Amendment: Would lift the ban on travel to Cuba for one year by prohibiting the use of funds to restrict U.S. citizens from traveling to Cuba. This would not eliminate the authority of the President to restrict travel for national security purposes. The amendment was adopted by a vote of 18-12.
Boozman-Heitkamp Amendment: Would eliminate a key barrier to U.S. competitiveness in Cuba by allowing the use of private credit for the sale of U.S. agricultural commodities to Cuba. The amendment was adopted by voice vote.
Tester Amendment: Would repeal a current requirement that any vessel that has traveled to Cuba cannot load or unload freight in the U.S. within 180 days without a license. Current requirements needlessly choke trade, and this would eliminate a logistical disadvantage for agricultural producers, ports, and shipping companies. The amendment was adopted by voice vote.