WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Engage Cuba President James Williams, released the following statement on the historic compromise in the U.S. House of Representatives to expand agriculture trade in Cuba. Representative Rick Crawford (R-AR), a leader in opening up trade and travel to Cuba and Republican Leadership – including members from Florida – who have previously long-resisted any changes to U.S.-Cuba policy, reached an agreement to find a long-term solution to provide credit for the export of agricultural commodities to Cuba.
"Last night's agreement made one thing clear: the momentum for changing our Cuba policies has shifted, and even the most outspoken opponents of lifting the Cuban embargo have realized that their position is no longer tenable. We're encouraged by House Leadership's recognition that we are overdue for a reexamination of our policies toward Cuba. After 55 years of stalemate, this is a major step forward," said President of Engage Cuba, James Williams. "An overwhelming majority of Americans are in favor of opening up travel and trade with Cuba, and finally, the tides are turning in Congress. We would like to thank the entire House Cuba Working Group, especially Congressmen Rick Crawford (R-AR), Mark Sanford (R-SC) and Tom Emmer (R-MN) for their leadership."
As a result of this compromise, there will be no vote on the appropriations amendments offered by Representative Rick Crawford (R-AR) and Representative Mark Sanford (R-SC) to remove restrictions on agricultural exports and to lift the travel ban, respectively.
In June, the Senate Appropriations Committee overwhelmingly voted to include a similar agricultural export amendment as well as an amendment to lift the travel ban on Cuba in a must-pass FY 2017 funding bill.
Below is a transcript of Rep. Crawford discussing the compromise on the House floor this morning.
Transcript of Representative Crawford:
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.