Statement from Engage Cuba on Cuba Amendments in Senate Appropriations Committee

WASHINGTON – James Williams, President of Engage Cuba, issued the following statement after a series of positive amendments sponsored by Senators Leahy, Tester, and Boozman were approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee today during the mark-up of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2016:

“This is further evidence that there is a growing bipartisan consensus in Congress to change our policy with Cuba, which has been an abject failure for over 50 years. Along with the newest co-sponsor of the Freedom to Travel to Cuba bill, Sen. Dean Heller, we applaud these Senators for listening to their constituents. It is significant and noteworthy that both Republican and Democratic Senators worked together to propose a series of amendments that would lift the travel ban to Cuba for a one-year period, support private financing for permitted agricultural exports to Cuba, and improve the movement of goods in both directions. These amendments support the American people and their freedom to travel and trade, while also supporting the Cuban people. American farmers and businesses should have the chance to fully and openly compete in a market of 11 million neighbors just 90 miles away, and today’s votes bring us one step closer to that reality.”

A CBS News poll just this week showed that 81% of the American people support ending the travel ban, including 71% of Republicans.

Background on Amendments and How They Advance American Interests:

Amendment Lifting Travel Ban to Cuba For One Year, proposed by Sen. Moran adopted by a vote of 18-12.

  • The amendment prohibits the use of any funds appropriated under this Act or any other Act to implement any law, regulation, or policy that restricts travel to Cuba for one year.

Amendment To End 180 Day Delay for Ships That Have Docked in Cuban Ports, proposed by Sen. Tester, adopted by voice vote.

  • The amendment repeals the requirement that a vessel entering a port or place in Cuba may not load or unload freight at any place in the United States within 180 days without a license issued by the Secretary of the Treasury.

Amendment Allowing Private Sector Credit for Purchase of American Agricultural Sales in Cuba, proposed by Sen. Boozman, adopted by voice vote.

  • The amendment allows the private financing by United States persons of sales of agricultural commodities to Cuba. The amendment would not cost the government and does not allow for U.S. export credit guarantees or expose U.S. taxpayers any risks associated with exporting to Cuba.