LEGISLATIVE DAY OF JULY 6, 2016
114TH CONGRESS - SECOND SESSION
VIDEO LINK: Rep. Crawford at 14:44:00 or Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart at14:45:39
Rep. Rick Crawford (AR-1): I thank the gentleman for yielding. I'd like to engage in a colloquy with my friend from Florida, Mr. Diaz-Balart. Instead of moving forward with my amendment as I had intended that will enable our agriculture producers to sell products to Cuba on credit for the next fiscal year, we have agreed to work together to find a long-term solution that will work for our ag producers over time. Until today there seemed to be no path forward for an agreement. But I've gotten commitments from leadership and my friends from Florida that there will be a proper path forward and we've agreed to find a solution that does a number of things: it supports a long-term solution for our ag producers to sell commodities to Cuban buyers by eliminating restrictions in current law that weaken our producers’ competitiveness. It lifts a number of the impediments, the cash restriction being one of those, cash requirement for purchases. It supports a thorough examination of the Cuban market through a deliberative process across each relevant committee of jurisdiction, examines other long-term solutions that enable the United States to expand market access to the Cuban people. At a time when that farm income has dropped by more than 55 percent, it's critical we work together to make things work on a long-term basis because there's no easy fix. Our producers are ready to sell products to the 11 million people in Cuba that represent a market value in excess of $1 billion per year. I thank the hard work and efforts of the agriculture business, humanitarian and religious organizations in supporting this amendment. I look forward to working with my colleagues from Florida, the committee chairs, leadership, and the agriculture committee on a solution we can all agree on. With that I'd like to recognize my friend from Florida, Mr. Diaz-Balart.
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25): Mr. Speaker, thank you. I want to first thank the gentleman from Arkansas for the time. Look, I understand how important this issue is for him. And for his constituents. I frankly salute him for his efforts. As we all know, our farmers are some of the most patriotic Americans. I believe we should do everything we can to help them sell American agriculture products throughout the world. But we cannot at the same time help a communist regime that harbors and supports terrorists and fugitives from U.S. law; the largest confiscator of U.S. property in history; fails to pay its debt; is one of the worst violators of human rights and religious freedom in the Western Hemisphere; is a top counterintelligence threat to the United States; and a threat to democracy in Latin America. I commit to my friend that I will sit down with him along with my colleagues, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen and Mr. Curbelo, to come up with a solution that meets the needs of our farmers that we all represent, that does not endanger our national security or support the Castro regime, its military or intelligence services. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.