Cuba trade backers in Senate take small steps first
Ordinary tourists could start dreaming up itineraries for trips to Cuba under legislation that senators will introduce on Thursday.
The bill to end all travel restrictions for Americans who want to visit Cuba will be announced Thursday at a press conference. It represents the opening salvo in a fight that’s brewing on Capitol Hill over whether Congress should further open Cuba to travel and trade now that President Barack Obama has decided to normalize relations with the communist-run Caribbean island.
“Americans ought to be able to travel wherever they want,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., adding that increased contact with Americans could open Cuba to democratic reforms.
Led by Republican lawmakers from farming and ranching states, the effort has bipartisan support and the backing of the business community, which is eager to ramp up U.S. exports to Cuba. The ultimate goal is a full repeal of the economic embargo on Cuba, which was imposed by Congress more than 50 years ago. Only Congress can lift it.
But that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.