U.S. Senate Adopts Four Pro-Engagement Cuba Amendments

Cuba Journal

The US Senate Appropriations Committee adopted four separate amendments related to travel and trade with Cuba.

Amendment lifting travel ban

Americans today travel in large numbers to Cuba under twelve approved categories – “vacation” is not one of the approved categories. Most Americans self-certify for approved travel under a general “people-to-people” category without a problem. The Cuban government maintains no restrictions for Americans traveling to the island nation.

“The federal government shouldn’t be in the business of policing Americans’ vacation plans,” said James Williams, president of Engage Cuba. “The travel ban is inconsistent with our values as a free society and I’m glad the Senate Appropriations Committee made it overwhelmingly clear they want that to change.”

Other Related Amendments

Senators adopted provision on a 22-8 vote that would repeal a requirement that any US vessel entering a port in Cuba must obtain a license to load or unload freight in the U.S. within 180 days. It would also allow American farmers to extend private financing for exporting agricultural commodities to Cuba.

The panel also approved an amendment by voice vote that would permit consumer communication devices or telecommunications services to be exported to Cuba.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) recently estimated that agricultural and manufactured goods exports could increase by as much as $2.2 billion annually if the US lifts the embargo and Cuba continues its path towards market-opening policies.

Last week, senior White House official Ben Rhodes said the US Cuba travel ban and trade embargo could end, “sooner than people think.”

The amendment ending the travel ban allows Americans to travel to the one country in the world to which the US prohibits Americans to travel to freely, Cuba. Committee passage of this amendment follows the US Department of Transportation’s announcement authorizing commercial flights to Cuba.