July 28, 2015
Washington, D.C. —Today a Republican-led, bipartisan piece of legislation that would restore U.S. trade with Cuba was introduced in the House of Representatives. The Cuba Trade Act of 2015 (H.R. 3238) was introduced by Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN), and is the latest in a series of Republican-led measures in Congress seeking to deepen U.S. engagement with Cuba.
“What we’re witnessing is a Congress gearing up to do what the vast majority of Americans want them to do: end the trade embargo on Cuba,” said Marc Hanson, Senior Associate for Cuba at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). “Members of Congress from both parties, and across the political spectrum are increasingly recognizing that after fifty years of failed policy that hurt the Cuban people and hinder the American economy, it is time for new approach.”
WOLA, a research and advocacy organization that has followed U.S.-Cuba policy for over 40 years, has been closely monitoring this shift in support for greater engagement with Cuba. As outlined in an accompanying fact sheet, removing restrictions on U.S.-Cuba trade has obtained broad support among individuals and organizations traditionally seen as the base of the Republican Party.
“This is no longer a red-state or blue-state issue. People of all different views are eager for the U.S. to engage with Cuba – and companies are clamoring to do business there,” said Hanson. “The fact that a bill introduced by Rep. Emmer, a conservative Republican, is co-sponsored by a Democrat from Florida, Rep. Kathy Castor, is itself a demonstration of shifting tides on the issue.”
This shift has been evident in the wave of Republican-led initiatives to lift the embargo on Cuba presented in recent months. These include the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, introduced by Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ); the Cuba Data Act, introduced by Representative Kevin Cramer (R-ND); and recent amendments that would lift the travel ban and other restrictions, introduced by Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), John Boozman (R-AK) and passed by the GOP-controlled Senate Appropriations Committee.
The growth in Republican support for normalizing relations with Cuba is also illustrated by recent opinion polls. 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, 59 percent of Republicans favor ending the trade embargo. The Pew poll also found that support for lifting the embargo increased by 15 percent among conservative Republicans since January 2015, making them the fastest-growing group of Americans who support opening U.S. trade with Cuba.
To view the accompanying fact sheet, which details the growing support for ending the embargo within the Republican Party alongside the benefits of doing so, click here.
Communications Director, WOLA
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