Bipartisan advocacy group forms to normalize U.S.-Cuban relations

Washington Post

By: Catherine Ho

A new advocacy group lobbying for U.S.-Cuba normalization is applauding the reopening of embassies in the United States and Cuba, a move announced by President Obama this morning.

Engage Cuba, which formally launched last month, is led by political consultant James Williams and includes 15 major companies, trade associations and other groups including the National Association of Manufacturers, Consumer Electronics Association and Choice Hotels.

“We applaud this important step in bringing the U.S. and Cuba closer together, and urge Congress to hasten the day when American travelers and companies have the freedom to engage with one of our nearest neighbors,” said Williams, who plans to travel to Havana on Thursday to visit the embassy.

Engage Cuba has already recruited some major bipartisan players in lobbying circles: in addition to Williams, its senior advisers include Steven Law (president of American Crossroads GPS and former chief of staff to Sen. Mitch McConnell, as well as ex-executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee) and Luke Albee (a Democratic lobbyist and former chief of staff to Democratic Sens. Mark Warner (Va.) and Patrick Leahy (Vt.)). And it recently hired GOP lobbyists Billy Piper and Kirsten Chadwick of the Republican lobby firm Fierce Government Relations.